Mirrors, masks, and motivation: Implicit and explicit self-focused attention influence effort-related cardiovascular reactivity.
ABSTRACT Using motivational intensity theory as a framework, three experiments examined how implicit self-focus (manipulated with masked first-name priming) and explicit self-focus (manipulated with a large mirror) influence effort-related cardiovascular activity, particularly systolic blood pressure reactivity. Theories of self-focused attention suggest that both implicit and explicit self-focus bring about self-evaluation and thus make meeting a goal more important. For a "do your best" task of unfixed difficulty, implicit and explicit self-focus both increased effort (Experiment 1) compared to a control condition. For a task that varied in difficulty, implicit and explicit self-focus promoted more effort as the task became increasingly hard (Experiments 2 and 3). Taken together, the findings suggest that implicit and explicit self-processes share a similar motivational architecture. The discussion explores the value of integrating motivational intensity theory with self-awareness theory and considers the emerging interest in implicit aspects of effort regulation.