Book chapter

Bounded Effort Automaticity: A Drama in Four Parts

Published inHandbook of Biobehavioral Approaches to Self-Regulation, Editors G.H.E. Gendolla, M. Tops & S.L. Koole, p. 271-286
PublisherNew York : Springer
Publication date2015

This chapter proposes a new theoretical perspective on the self-regulation of effort. In the first part, we discuss research on motivational intensity and cardiovascular adjustments. The sympathetic impact on the heart via beta-adrenergic receptors is proportional to task engagement. This beta-adrenergic impact becomes especially evident in shortened cardiac pre-ejection period (PEP). PEP thus serves as a “gold standard” measure of effort mobilization. Most research on effort mobilization has supported some form of resource conservation principle, or the notion that people prefer to minimize effort to attain their goals. This research has especially supported the predictions of motivational intensity theory that posits that people mobilize effort proportionally to task demand as long as success is possible and justified. However, research from the automaticity literature suggests that people can also be directly primed to mobilize their effort, and that such priming also influences PEP. This raises the question if automatic priming processes operate independently of the resource conservation principle. To resolve this problem, we propose a bounded effort automaticity approach, which integrates automaticity research with the resource conservation principle. In this approach, priming action and inaction during task performance automatically leads to effort mobilization, but only as long as success is possible and justified. In support of our approach, we discuss studies showing that automatic priming increases mobilized effort but only as long as success is possible and justified. These findings confirm that effort mobilization can be influenced automatically, but only within boundary conditions.

Citation (ISO format)
GENDOLLA, Guido H.E., SILVESTRINI, Nicolas. Bounded Effort Automaticity: A Drama in Four Parts. In: Handbook of Biobehavioral Approaches to Self-Regulation. New York : Springer, 2015. p. 271–286. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1236-0_18
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Book chapter (Published version)

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