Contextual Priming of a Complex Behavior: Exercise

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Abstract

To test effects of contextual priming (both conscious and nonconscious) in relation to complex human behavior, the present studies investigated (1) whether nonconscious priming of exercise and antiexercise goals can increase and decrease exercise, respectively; (2) whether conscious priming of exercise goals can increase exercise; and (3) how nonconscious and conscious priming of exercise goals compare in effectiveness to influence exercise. Results showed that nonconscious priming of antiexercise goals decreased exercise, but nonconscious priming of exercise goals did not increase exercise. Conversely, conscious priming of exercise goals increased exercise. Thus, results suggest that exercise can be decreased via nonconscious priming of antiexercise goals but increased by conscious priming of exercise goals. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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