Directive and incentive functions of affective action consequences: an ideomotor approach

Psychol Res. 2015 Jul;79(4):630-49. doi: 10.1007/s00426-014-0590-4. Epub 2014 Jun 25.


Five experiments examined whether affective consequences become associated with the responses producing them and whether anticipations of positive and negative action outcomes influence action control differently. In a learning phase, one response produced pleasant and another response unpleasant visual effects. In a subsequent test phase, the same actions were carried out in response to a neutral feature of affective stimuli. Results showed that responses were faster when the irrelevant valence of the response cue matched the valence of the response outcome, but only when the responses still produced outcomes. These results suggest that affective action consequences have a directive function in that they facilitate the selection of the associated response over other responses, even when the response outcome is unpleasant (Experiment 4A). Results of another experiment showed that affective action consequences can also have an incentive function in that responses with pleasant outcomes are generally facilitated relative to responses with unpleasant outcomes. However, this motivational effect was seen only in a free-choice test (Experiment 5). The results suggest that behavioral impulses induced by ideomotor processes are constrained by the motivational evaluation of the anticipated action outcome. A model that integrates motivational factors into ideomotor theory is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Young Adult