A functional basis for structure-seeking: exposure to structure promotes willingness to engage in motivated action.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

A recurring observation of experimental psychologists is that people prefer, seek out, and even selectively "see" structure in their social and natural environments. Structure-seeking has been observed across a wide range of phenomena--from the detection of patterns in random arrays to affinities for order-providing political, religious, social, and scientific worldviews--and is exacerbated under psychological threat. Why are people motivated for structure? An intriguing, but untested, explanation holds that perceiving structure, even in domains unrelated to one's current behavioral context, can facilitate willingness to take goal-directed actions. Supporting this, in 5 studies, reminders of structure in nature or society increase willingness to engage in goal pursuit.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kay, AC; Laurin, K; Fitzsimons, GM; Landau, MJ

Published Date

  • April 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 143 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 486 - 491

PubMed ID

  • 24059844

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-2222

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0096-3445

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0034462


  • eng