Automatic facilitation of social behavior by implicit inferring of social intention


It is known that we can infer others’ intentions and goals automatically. On the other hand, recent researches have demonstrated that people spontaneously adopt and pursue the goals perceived in others’ behavior. This phenomenon is called goal contagion and goal contagion can occur even when the goal is not consciously understood. In this study, we examined whether mere exposure to animated agents’ intentions could influence our social behavior. Participants performed social game while the short animation depicting social intention in the peripheral monitor that participants did not attend to. We found that participants exposed to an animation that implied helping behavior was more cooperative than participants exposed to an animation that implied hindering behavior. In addition, participants could not answer what was displayed in the peripheral monitor in which the animation was displayed. These results suggest that others’ intentions can influence our social behavior without consciousness.

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