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Do goals facilitate conscious awareness of goal-related information?

Rochal, Irina; (2017) Do goals facilitate conscious awareness of goal-related information? Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Prior research suggests that people’s behaviour and perception can be strongly biased by their current goals. This can occur without people being necessarily consciously aware of that. This idea implies that at least some information would have to be preconsciously processed to a specific degree, in order for the brain to decide what is goal-relevant and what is not. With this theory in mind, I investigated whether motivation could exert a top-down influence on what type of information would enter conscious awareness first and in particular, whether goal-related information would have conscious priority. This was done by using a state of mind technique called continuous flash suppression (CFS). I proposed that motivation affects perception and behaviour by top-down influences that occur via accessibility. In my first experiment, I tested motivational top-down effects of goals on goal-related materials (EXP 1), by inducing deprivation that should create a goal to fulfil. After sobering results I took a few steps back on the motivational – behaviour chain and tested a) top-down effect on a low-level basis (EXP 2), b) top-down effects of accessibility of concepts (EXP 3, EXP 4), and c) top-down effects on semantics (EXP 5). My results suggest that expected information, which is instrumental for the task at hand, is prioritized in conscious awareness (EXP 2). Moreover, these findings can be extended to accessible concepts that are not instrumental for the task but are simply accessible for goal pursuit (EXP 3,4). Lastly, the results of experiment 5 imply that previously found accessibility effects of concepts, are not due to familiarity but could be possible due to higher-level preconscious processing. This gives rise to the possibility that semantic processing might be possible. The meaning and implication of those results will be further elaborated on in the general discussion.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Do goals facilitate conscious awareness of goal-related information?
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040270
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