Cognitive Automation and Organizational Psychology : Priming Goals as a New Source of Competitive Advantage book cover
1st Edition

Cognitive Automation and Organizational Psychology
Priming Goals as a New Source of Competitive Advantage

ISBN 9780367785994
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

Jobs that were once well-defined are now multifaceted. New realities have placed a premium on employee cognitive processing to fulfill complex occupational roles. But human conscious cognitive capacity is limited, making it nearly impossible for employees to keep up without being overloaded. Stajković and Sergent refute the common assumption that technological automation is the only way forward. Instead, they directly tackle the issue of employee cognitive overload by proposing cognitive automation as an alternative solution. The authors present a sampling of cutting-edge research showing that conscious guidance is not required for all goal pursuits; goal-directed behavior at work can be automated via priming of subconscious goals.

Building on research in social psychology and organizational behavior, Stajković and Sergent introduce four models to explain how subconscious goals are primed in organizations:

•Auto-motive model: Repeated practice with a goal makes cognitive automation possible.

•Goal contagion: Observing and inferring goals of others creates cognitive automation.

•Means-goal priming: Confidence in your goal pursuit enhances cognitive automation.

•A history of reinforcement: Money, feedback, and social recognition used to reinforce goal achievement become associated with the goal, resulting in cognitive automation.

The authors canvas a broad range of knowledge concerning the problem of employee cognitive overload in contemporary organizations and rely on multidisciplinary research to propose cognitive automation as a solution that can address it directly. This book is a deep well of valuable information for those interested in solving real work problems with application of science of organizational behavior (SOB).

Table of Contents


Part I: The Problem and Proposed Solution

Chapter 1: Skyrocketing Cognitive Load Versus the Snail’s Pace of Attentional Adaptation

Part II: Theory Foundations

Chapter 2: Self-Regulation Guided by Conscious Goals

Chapter 3: Subconscious Processing and Cognitive Automation

Chapter 4: Four Conceptual Models of Goal Priming

Part III: The Latest Empirical Research

Chapter 5: Organizational Behavior Research on Priming Goals Guided by the Auto-Motive Model: Evidence from 15 Studies

Chapter 6: Organizational Behavior Research on Priming Goals Guided by the Goal Contagion Model

Chapter 7: Organizational Behavior Research on Priming Self-Efficacy as a Means-to-a-Goal

Chapter 8: Organizational Behavior Research on Priming Goals by History of Reinforcement

Chapter 9: Limitations, Methods, and Future Research

Chapter 10: Application: Is Priming Ready for Prime Time

The Past is Prologue

Author Biographies


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Alex Stajkovic is the M. Keith Weikel Distinguished Chair in Leadership and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alex earned both his Masters and Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Alex’s research has been featured in the New York Times, Elle Magazine, and BizEd, as well as premier journals in Organizational Behavior and Psychology, such as Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Personnel Psychology, and Psychological Bulletin. He has taught Organizational Behavior in the Executive and Evening MBA programs, as well as in the doctoral program, at the Wisconsin School of Business for 20 years. Alex has given over 100 presentations, invited talks, and has consulted globally. For more information see his website:

Kayla Sergent is Assistant Professor of Management at Edgewood College. Kayla earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kayla’s research has been published in Journal of Business and Psychology, Applied Psychology: An International Review, Personality and Individual Differences, and Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. She teaches Organizational Behavior in the Evening MBA and undergraduate programs at Edgewood College. Kayla has consulted on transformational leadership, creativity, and organizational culture. For more information see her website: