Henk Aarts

I am trained as an experimental social psychologist at Nijmegen University where I worked on habit and decision making, and received my PhD in 1996. I worked at Eindhoven University of Technology and Leiden University. Since 2004 I have been a Full Professor in Social Psychology at Utrecht University. My work deals with several topics related to the role of goals in automatic processes of social cognition and behavior and is published in fundamental and applied journals. One recent discovery in my research program concerns the notion that, in contrast with what often is assumed, conscious intentions do not play a strong causal role in behavior as well as that people infer goals from their own and others’ behavior. This suggests that although goals play a pivotal role in human behavior, these goals may well operate outside of consciousness. In my research I try to unravel core aspects of this intriguing and important topic. The goallab is established and directed by Ruud Custers and myself.

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Representative publications

Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Marien, H. (2009). Priming and authorship ascription: When nonconscious goals turn into conscious experiences of self-agency. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 967-979.

Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Marien, H. (2008). Preparing and motivating behavior outside awareness. Science, 319, 1639.

Aarts, H., Custers, R., & Wegner, D.M. (2005). On the inference of personal authorship: enhancing experienced agency by priming effect information. Consciousness and Cognition, 14, 439-458.

Aarts, H., Gollwitzer, P., & Hassin, R (2004). Goal contagion: Perceiving is for pursuing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 23-37.

Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2000). Habits as knowledge structures: Automaticity in goal-directed behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 53-63.

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Contact information

Utrecht University
Dept. of Psychology
PO Box 80140
3508 TC Utrecht
The Netherlands
T: +31 30 253 49 04
F: +31 30 253 47 18

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