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Henk Aarts

Henk Aarts

I completed graduate training as an experimental social psychologist at Nijmegen University, where I worked on habit and decision making. After that, I worked at Eindhoven University of Technology, Leiden University and Utrecht University. My work deals with several topics related to the role of goals in automatic processes of social cognition and behavior. One recent discovery that we try to examine and understand in our lab concerns the notion that, in contrast with what often is assumed, conscious intentions do not play a strong causal role in behavior; instead, people infer goals from their own and others’ behavior. This finding 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.

Primary Interests:

  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

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Journal Articles:

  • Hertel, G., Aarts, H., & Zeelenberg, M. (in press). What do you think is fair? Effects of social context factors on fairness judgments. European Journal of Social Psychology.
  • 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.
  • Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2002). Category activation effects in judgment and behavior: The moderating role of perceived comparability. British Journal Social of Psychology, 41, 123-138.
  • Aarts, H., Dijksterhuis, A., & De Vries, P. (2001). The psychology of drinking: Being thirsty and Perceptually Ready. British Journal of Psychology, 92, 631-642.
  • Dijksterhuis, A., Aarts, H., Bargh, J.A., & van Knippenberg, A. (2000). Past contact, stereotype strength, and automatic behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 531-544.
  • Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2000). Habits as knowledge structures: Automaticity in goal-directed behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 53-63.
  • Aarts, H., Dijksterhuis, A., & Midden, C. (1999). To plan or not to plan: Goal achievement or interrupting the performance of mundane behaviors. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 971-979.
  • Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (1999). How often did I do it: Experienced ease of retrieval and self-estimates of performing mundane behaviors. Acta Psychologica, 103, 77-89.
  • Aarts, H., Verplanken, B., & van Knippenberg, A. (1998). Predicting behavior from actions in the past: Repeated decision making or a matter of habit? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 1356-1375.
  • Aarts, H., Paulussen, T, & Schaalma, H. (1997). Physical exercise habit: on the conceptualization and formation of habitual health behaviours. Health Education Research: Theory & Practice, 12, 363-374.
  • Aarts, H., Verplanken, B., & van Knippenberg, A. (1997). Habit and information use in travel mode choices. Acta Psychologica, 96, 1-14.

Other Publications:

  • Verplanken, B., & Aarts, H. (1999). Habit, attitudes, and planned behaviour. Is habit an empty construct or an interesting case of goal-directed automaticity? In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone (Eds.), European Review of Social Psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 101-134). Chichester: Wiley.
  • Dijksterhuis, A., Aarts, H., & Smith, P.K. (in press). The power of the subliminal: On subliminal persuasion and other potential applications. In R. Hassin, J.S. Uleman, & J.A. Bargh (Eds.). Unintended thought 2: The new unconscious. New York: Oxford University Press.

Henk Aarts
Department of Psychology
Utrecht University
Heidelberglaan 1
3584 CS Utrecht
The Netherlands

  • Phone: +31 30 2534904
  • Fax: +31 30 2534718

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