Bertram Gawronski

Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology
Tier 2 - March 1, 2005
Social Sciences and Humanities


Automaticity and Control in Human Behaviour

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This well-known quote refers to a dualism that has become a central theme in contemporary psychology: the distinction between automatic (or impulsive) and controlled (or reflective) determinants of human behaviour. Automatic and controlled components can be found in nearly every kind of human behaviour, from the formation of a first impression or driving a car to overcoming one’s fear of spiders.

So far, automatic and controlled processes have been studied mainly in isolation; previous research focused on either one of the two determinants, or, if both determinants were considered, simply investigated their unique contributions.

Dr. Bertram Gawronski seeks to establish a new approach to the study of human behaviour by investigating the mutual interplay of these processes. He is developing a theoretical framework that outlines the determinants and the specific ways in which automatic and controlled processes mutually influence each other. He plans to carry out empirical tests of the specific predictions implied by the proposed framework, and improve and validate a new method to disentangle the contribution of automatic and controlled processes within a single task.

Gawronski expects his research program to provide a fresh perspective for all psychological disciplines that refer to the distinction between automatic and controlled processes, such as social psychology, clinical psychology, and neuropsychology.

Source: Canada Research Chairs program, Government of Canada


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