Significant others can automatically activate a variety of goals, including goals that significant others have for an individual and the individual's personal goals that are associated with the significant others. Across three studies, this article shows that the effects of significant other primes (i.e., mother, roommate) on behavior depend on individual differences in both personal goals and responsiveness to social cues (i.e., self-monitoring, need to belong). Specifically, individuals who are motivated to respond to social cues assimilate to a goal that their primed significant other has for them, regardless of whether they personally hold the goal. Individuals not so motivated, on the other hand, assimilate to the goal only when it is one that they also personally hold. Implications of these findings for research on the prime-to-behavior relationship and interpersonal goal pursuit are discussed.

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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Morrison, K. R., Wheeler, S. C., & Smeesters, D. (2007). Significant other primes and behavior: Motivation to respond to social cues moderates pursuit of prime-induced goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(12), 1661–1674. doi:10.1177/0146167207307491