Abstract

This work examines the process through which thrift versus prestige goals can nonconsciously affect decisions in a choice task. Drawing upon research on nonconscious goal pursuit, we present a theoretical framework detailing how consumer choices are affected by incidentally activated goals. We show that such primed goals have motivational properties consistent with goal pursuit but inconsistent with mere cognitive activation; the effects are greater with a longer time interval between the priming task and the choice and are less pronounced when the primed goal is satiated in a real, as opposed to a hypothetical, intervening choice task. Additionally, we show that subliminally evoked retail brand names can serve as the cues that activate purchasing goals.

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