Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Ruud Custers

Ruud Custers

My research focuses on nonconscious processes in goal pursuit. I am interested in the question of how mental goal representations can guide and propel motivational activity without conscious awareness. Specifically, I study the role of affective processes that are involved. Moreover, I try to distinguish motivational effects of goal activation from those that are produced by other, nonmotivational mechanisms. Assuming that much of people's motivational behavior originates in the nonconscious, I also investigate how goal representations develop and why people experience feelings of agency over their actions.

I have received the following two awards for the paper "Positive Affect as Implicit Motivator: On the Nonconscious Operation of Behavioral Goals" (JPSP, 2005):

-- ISCON (International Social Cognition Network) Best Paper Award 2005

-- KLI (Kurt Lewin Institute) Best Paper Award 2006

Primary Interests:

  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

Journal Articles:

  • Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Holland, R. W. (2007). The nonconscious cessation of goal pursuit: When goals and negative affect are coactivated. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 165-178.
  • Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Marien, H. (2008). Preparing and motivating behavior outside of awareness. Sience, 319, 1639.
  • Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Wegner, D. M. (2005). On the inference of personal authorship: Enhancing experienced agency by priming effect information. Consciousness and Cognition, 14, 439-458.
  • Bijleveld, E., Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2010), Unconscious reward cues increase invested effort, but do not change speed-accuracy tradeoffs. Cognition, 115, 330-335.
  • Bijleveld, E., Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2009). The unconscious rye opener: Pupil dilation reveals strategic recruitment of resources upon presentation of subliminal reward cues. Psychological Science, 20, 1313-1315.
  • Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2011). Learning of predictive relations between events depends on attention, not on awareness. Consciousness and Cognition, 20, 368-378.
  • Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2010). The unconscious will: How the pursuit of goals operates outside of conscious awareness. Science, 329, 47-50.
  • Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2007). Goal-discrepant situations prime goal-directed actions if goals are temporarily or chronically accessible. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 623-633.
  • Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2007). In search of the nonconscious sources of goal pursuit: Accessibility and positive affective valence of the goal state. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 312-318.
  • Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2005). Beyond priming effects: The role of positive affect and discrepancies in implicit processes of motivation and goal pursuit. European Review of Social Psychology, 16, 257-300.
  • Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2005). Positive affect as implicit motivator: On the nonconscious operation of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 129-142.
  • Custers, R., Aarts, H., Oikawa, M., & Elliot, A. (2009). The nonconscious road to perceptions of performance: Achievement priming augments outcome expectancies and experienced self-agency. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1200-1208.
  • Custers, R., Maas, M., Wildenbeest, M., & Aarts, H. (2008). Nonconscious goal pursuit and the surmounting of physical and social obstacles. European Journal of Social Psychology, 1013-1022.
  • Papies, E.K., Barsalou, L. W., Custers, R. (in press). Mindful attention prevents mindless impulses. Social Psychological and Personality Science
  • Veltkamp, M., Aarts, H., & Custers, R. (2008). On the emergence of deprivation-reducing behaviors: Subliminal priming of behavior representations turns deprivation into motivation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 866-873.
  • Veltkamp, M., Aarts, H., & Custers, R. (2008). Perception in the service of goal pursuit: Motivation to attain goals enhances the perceived size of goal-instrumental objects. Social Cognition, 26, 720-736.
  • Veltkamp, M., Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2011). Motivating consumer behavior by subliminal conditioning in the absence of basic needs: Striking even while the iron is cold. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21, 49-56.

Other Publications:

  • Custers, R. (2009). How does our unconscious know what we want? The role of affect in goal representations. In G. B. Moskowitz & H. Grant (Eds.) The psychology of goals (pp. 179-202). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Custers, R., Eitam, B., Bargh, J. A. (in press). Conscious and unconscious processes in goal pursuit: In H. Aarts & A. Elliot (Eds). Goal-directed behavior. New York: Psychology Press / Taylor & Francis.
  • Custers, R., & Veling, H. (2009). Memory: Procedural memory, skill, perceptual-motor learning and awareness. In: W. P. Banks, (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Consciousness (volume 1, pp. 13-18). Oxford: Elsevier.

Courses Taught:

  • Current Directions in Attitudes Research( research master)
  • Research Seminar Social Neuroscience (3rd year bachelor)
  • Social Cognition (2nd year bachelors)
  • Social Psychology (3rd year bachelor)
  • Thought & Cognition (research master)

Ruud Custers
Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences
University College London
26 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AP
United Kingdom

  • Phone: +44 (0) 207 679 5353

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