Output order reflects the cognitive accessibility of goals

J Soc Psychol. 2012 Jan-Feb;152(1):5-16. doi: 10.1080/00224545.2010.538761.


Goal accessibility--the ease or speed with which a goal is activated--increases the likelihood that it will be acted on. The present studies validate output order as a measure of goal accessibility that can be applied to goal lists in both laboratory and naturalistic settings. In three studies, output order (the order in which goals are listed in a free-response format) was related to self-reported goal value but was not redundant with it. Furthermore, output order was affected by motivational priming whereas value was not, and order associated with typical student goals (e.g., achievement) compared with atypical goals (e.g., power). Output order is well suited to bring the study of accessibility to naturalistic studies of goals and goal pursuit.

MeSH terms

  • Aspirations, Psychological
  • Awareness*
  • Cognition*
  • Cues
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Motion Pictures
  • Motivation*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Social Identification
  • Students / psychology