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The Relevance and Viability of Subconscious Goals in the Workplace
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm, Wiliford A

Gary Latham
University of Toronto

Edwin A. Locke
University of Maryland, College Park

This seminar will focus on the role of subconscious goals in predicting workplace outcomes. Specifically, the two leading scholars in field of motivation will discuss the relevance and viability of subconscious goals in the field of I-O psychology, particularly the implications for job performance and fairness in the workplace.


As is evident from the lack of citations in our journals, most scientists and practitioners in SIOP are unaware of, or have ignored, the programmatic research on primed goals by a relatively small number of social psychologists. Although we were highly skeptical of their findings, working independently, each of us replicated their results. Consequently, this workshop will focus on our laboratory and field experiments, explaining what we did, that show that a subconscious goal, together with a conscious goal, or by itself, can improve job performance as well as fairness in the workplace. Thus this workshop should be of interest to practitioners as well as researchers.

Learning objectives:

1. Summarize I-O psychology’s historical interest  in subconscious processes 
2. Describe the major findings in social psychology on subconscious goals and the ways these goals can be primed
3. Explain the practical significance of I-O  laboratory  and field experiments  on the effects of subconscious goals
4. Explore the possibilities of assigned subconscious goal setting in organizational settings
5. Discuss ethical issues of setting subconscious goals for employees


Gary Latham
is the Secretary of State Professor of Organizational Effectiveness in the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.  Prior to joining Rotman in 1990, he was the staff psychologist for the American Pulpwood Assoc., the Weyerhaeuser Co., and Chair of the Department of Management at the University of Washington. Gary is a Past President of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and President-Elect of Work and Organizational Psychology, a division of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). Gary served on the Board of the Center for Creative Leadership and currently serves on the boards of IAAP and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, Academy of Management, CPA, National Academy of Human Resources, SIOP, and the Royal Society of Canada. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Profession  and as a Science awards from SIOP,  the Catell Award from  APS, the Scholar-Practitioner award from the Academy of Management, the Herbert Heneman  Award for  Career Achievement from the HR Division of the Academy, the Thomas Mahoney award for Mentoring from the HR Division,  the Lifetime Achievement award from the OB Division of the Academy of Management, and the Michael Losey Award for Significant Research Contributions to Human Resource Management from the Society from SHRM. His book, The Evidence Based Manager co-published in 2009 by Nicolas Brealey and SHRM won the  Practice Relevant Scholarship award from the Academy of Management.

Edwin A. Locke is Dean's Professor of Leadership and Motivation (Emeritus) at the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his BA from Harvard in 1960 and his PhD in industrial psychology from Cornell University in 1964. He has published over 280 chapters, notes and articles in professional journals, on such subjects as work motivation, job satisfaction, incentives, and the philosophy of science. He is also the author or editor of 11 books, including Study Methods and Study Motivation (Second Renaissance Books, 1998), Goal Setting: A Motivational Technique That Works (Prentice Hall, 1984, with G. Latham), A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance (Prentice Hall, 1990, with G. Latham), Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior (Blackwell, 2000; 2nd edition Wiley, 2009), The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators (AMACOM, 2000; 2nd edition Ayn Rand Bookstore, 2008) and Post Modernism and Management: Pos, Cons and the Alternative (Elsevier Science, 2003). His goal setting theory (developed with Gary Latham) was rated as #1 in importance among 73 management theories. Dr. Locke has been elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, of the Association for Psychological Science, and of the Academy of Management. He has won  the James McKeen Cattell Award  from the Association for Psychological Science,  Distinguished Scientific Achievement Awards from both the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the OB division of the Academy of Management. He has been cited more than 9,000 times in the professional literature and has given more than 100 papers at professional conferences. He is interested in the application of the philosophy of Objectivism to the behavioral sciences and has published several articles and chapters on this topic.

Coordinator: Burcu Rodopman, Bogazici University, Turkey.