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Introduction and Overview


                    Clearly, this process relies on cognitive knowledge about goals and actions. First of
            all, people need to mentally represent a goal state of being able to select it. Second, it seems
            that choosing the proper means requires knowledge about the causal relations between
            actions and their outcomes. That is, they have to know which actions will cause the goal   1
            state to materialize. While such deliberation and planning may characterize the pursuit of
            some goals, such as deciding on a route to take to a new destination, or planning for a dinner
            party, it does not seem to capture the fluency of goal-pursuit in everyday behavior, where
            we often seem to act virtually without deliberation in a fairly automatic manner.

                    In  an  attempt  to  explain  such  seemingly  automatic  behavior,  researchers  have
            proposed that goal-directed behavior does not have to be constructed by deliberative pro-
            cesses all the time. For well-rehearsed goal-directed behaviors, goals, and the actions that
            produce them could simply be retrieved from memory (Bargh, 2006; Custers & Aarts, 2005,
            Kruglanski et al., 2002). These cognitive structures would, on the one hand, consist of a
            mental representation of the goal state that would contain information about the goal state
            itself, but also about its desirability (Custers & Aarts, 2005). This goal representation would
            also be connected to one or more means in a hierarchical structure, in which the means
            most strongly associated with the goal would be selected and retrieved when a goal state
            would come to mind (Kruglanski et al., 2002). Together, this would explain how goals that
            were brought to mind by stimuli in the environment (primes), could evoke goal-pursuit:
            With the goal being selected by the environment, the associated means could be readily
            activated, leading goal-directed behavior to run its course (Bargh, 2005, 2006).

            Ideomotor Theory
                    This notion that thinking of actions and their outcomes can produce behavior can
            be traced back to the German philosophers (Herbart,1825; Lotze, 1852; Harless, 1861) and
            British psychologists (Laycock,1845; Carpenter, 1852; see for a historical overview, Stock &
            Stock, 2004). However, it was William James (2007) who firmly established this theory in his
            Principles of Psychology, saying, “Whenever movement follows unhesitatingly and imme-
            diately the notion of it in mind, we have ideo-motor action” (p. 522). According to James,
            ideas evoking action was the default, although this process could be disrupted by flashed
            ideas that might inhibit the intended behaviors.

                    It was Greenwald (1970) who revived the notion of ideomotor action, linking it
            firmly to goal-directed behavior, by pointing out that thinking of an action is not possible
            without thinking of the outcomes it produces. In a paradigm with two stages, he demon-
            strated that after learning that actions produce certain outcomes in an initial acquisition
            phase, stimuli related to these outcomes automatically influence behavior in a subsequent
            test phase.

                    While this approach quickly gave way to the more popular deliberative theories
            on goal-directed behavior, this approach quickly gained traction in the late 90’s of the 20th
            century when more mechanistic models of goal-directed behavior became more popular.
            The work eventually culminated in the theory of event coding (Prinz, 1997; Hommel et al.,
            2001; Hommel, 2019). According to that, learning and execution of goal-directed behavior

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