Ruud Custers

I obtained my PhD (Cum Laude) at Utrecht University in 2006. The central paper of my thesis received the best paper award from the International Social Cognition Network as well as the Kurt Lewin Institute. In 2006 I also received a Veni grant from the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) to further explore the difference between motivational and nonmotivational mechanisms in behavior arising from nonconscious sources. I started this work as an assistant professor and became and associate professor in November 2009.

My research investigates how motivation can arise from nonconscious sources. Based on the proposition that goal representation consist of cognitive as well as affective information that signals rewards, my research focuses on how these two components affect motivational behavior and how those representations are learned. From this angle, I am also interested in how conditioning and learning of expectancies can take place without awareness. Moreover, I am intrigued by how unconscious sources affect and shape people’s conscious experiences, such as feelings of agency, control or success.

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Representative publications

Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (in press). Learning of predictive relations between events depends on cognitive procedures, not on awareness. Consciousness and Cognition.

Bijleveld, E., Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2009). The Unconscious Eye Opener: Pupil Dilation Reveals Strategic Recruitment of Resources Upon Presentation of Subliminal Reward Cues. Psychological Science, 20, 1313-1315.

Custers, R., Aarts, H., Oikawa, M., & Elliot, A. (2009). The nonconscious road to perceptions of performance: Achievement priming augments outcome expectancies and experienced self-agency. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1200-1208.

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

Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2005). Positive affect as implicit motivator: On the nonconscious operation of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 129-142.

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Contact information

Utrecht University
Dept. of Psychology
PO Box 80140
3508 TC Utrecht
The Netherlands
T: +31 30 253 47 37
F: +31 30 253 47 18

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