Enacting Virtue, Controlling Vice: Testing Three Strategies for Overcoming Unconscious Influences and Translating

Project: Research project


Psychological research draws a grim picture of people’s capacity to enact virtue and control vice. Meta-analyses show that changing people’s conscious intentions has only a small effect on behavior (d+ = 0.36; Webb & Sheeran, 2006) whereas activating nonconscious goals or stereotypes has a large effect (d+ = 0.71; Sheeran, 2006). Moreover, factors beyond the individual’s control (e.g., working memory capacity, ego-depletion) determine whether behavior is influenced more by nonconscious than by conscious processes (Hoffman et al., 2007; 2008). The proposed research aims to redraw this picture. We propose that equipping people with appropriate self-regulatory tools will enable more effective handling of unwanted nonconscious influences, and better translation of conscious intentions into action. Three work packages (WPs) will, respectively, tackle the issues of overcoming unwanted priming effects (WP1), reducing the influence of implicit attitudes and increasing the impact of explicit attitudes (WP2), and enhancing the consistency between conscious intentions and behavior (WP3).
Effective start/end date7/1/1310/31/15


  • The University of Sheffield