Goal salience: the influence of impulsive and reflective states on sexual decisions
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At any time people engage in the pursuit of multiple goals and need to regulate the allocation of effort between a short-term goal and long-term goals. In two studies the interplay between goals and cognitive state were explored. We found that people in impulsive states put more effort in attaining short-term goals than in attaining long-term goals when sex goals were relatively important (Study 1). Results from Study 2 show that goal-attainment has two opposing effects on sexual risk decisions, depending on the cognitive state. For people in impulsive states, hedonic principles are most salient and these principles guide their decisions, resulting in less risky decision making when health goal attainment was certain. People in reflective states are guided by deliberate processes, resulting in risky decision making when health goal attainment was certain. Implications for improving health behavior are discussed.