Unconscious Influence of Negative Affective Stimuli on Consumption Behavior and Judgments of Value


  • Nik Kos University of Ljubljana


Traditional economics assumes that individuals are rational actors who make decisions based on weighing costs and benefits [1]. However, behavioral economics recognizes that people are not always perfectly rational and that their decisions can be influenced by a variety of psychological factors, such as emotions, biases, and heuristics. Yet, little is known about the nature of affective reactions elicited by different types of unconscious stimuli [2]. Our study aims to investigate how cognitive processes interact with emotional states, and how these interactions affect consumption behavior and judgments of value. More specifically our research aims to study how negative text concealed in the logical tasks influences the consumption of the beverage, perception of beverage value, and sensory evaluation of the beverage.

Participants will first answer a questionnaire regarding their levels of thirst and hunger. They will also rate their current affective state on the PANAS questionnaire. Subsequently, participants will engage in logical tasks, with one group solving tasks presented in neutral text and the other group solving tasks presented in negative text. After completing the tasks, participants will again fill out the PANAS questionnaire. The final part of the experiment will include offering participants a beverage followed by a questionnaire regarding their consumption and judgment of value like the questionnaire described in Winkielman [2].

Based on previous research investigating how unconscious affective stimuli influence behavior and judgments of value [2], we hypothesize that participants exposed to negative text will exhibit lower judgments of value and consumption rates compared to those in the neutral text group.

One limitation is that the study only measures participants' initial motivational state in terms of thirst and hunger. However, other factors may influence their consumption behavior and judgments of value that are not accounted for in the study. Future research could investigate the long-term effects of unconscious influences of affective stimuli on behavior and judgments of value and the role of individual differences, such as cognitive abilities, in moderating these effects. By examining how affective stimuli can unconsciously influence consumption behavior and judgments of value from an interdisciplinary perspective, the study may provide a more comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms that shape decision-making processes.


[1] M. Ogaki and S. C. Tanaka, Behavioral Economics: Toward a New Economics by Integration with Traditional Economics. in Springer Texts in Business and Economics. Singapore: Springer Singapore, 2017. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-6439-5

[2] P. Winkielman, K. C. Berridge, and J. L. Wilbarger, ‘Unconscious Affective Reactions to Masked Happy Versus Angry Faces Influence Consumption Behavior and Judgments of Value’, Pers Soc Psychol Bull, vol. 31, no. 1, 2005.