Alumni Committees Visitors Students Staff Faculty Search Contact us Site Map People Calendar Academics Research Home
   John Bargh

Professor of Psychology
Social, Cognition & Perception


Automatic Effects

How much free will do we really have? I am interested in the extent to which any and all social psychological phenomena -- attitudes and evaluations, emotions, impressions, motivations, social behavior -- occur nonconsciously and automatically. Most recently our lab has focused on the automatic link between social perception and social behavior, and on the automatic activation and operation of interaction goals (as well as information processing goals). The link between stereotype activation and then behaving in line with the content of that stereotype has been an especially provocative and exciting avenue of research, as has been research in collaboration with Shelly Chaiken on automatic, immediate evaluation of people, objects, and events in one's life. That all of these effects occur without the person's intention and awareness, yet have such strong effects on the person's decisions and behavior, has a great deal of implications for philosophical matters such as free will, and the nature and purpose of consciousness. One additional area of research is the application of the nonconscious-motivation idea to the issue of power abuse and corruption. We are finding clear individual differences in automatic reactions to having power, such that some people abuse it for their own selfish gain and others react with greater socialresponsibility and concern for others. That is, people differ in the goals that they have chronically and automatically associated with power, defined as those situations in which one has the ability to attain one's core goals.

back to the top


I grew up in a university town (Champaign, Illinois) and attended the University of Illinois as an undergraduate. From there I went to graduate school in social psychology at the University of Michigan, where my advisor was Bob Zajonc. I received my PhD in 1981 and that fall moved to NYU, where I've been ever since. My dissertation received the Society for Experimental Social Psychology (SESP) Dissertation Award in 1982, and in 1989 I received the American Psychological Association (APA) Early Career Award for contributions to psychology. I am a past-president of SESP and a Fellow of both APA and the American Psychological Society. For 1999-2004 I have been appointed as a Visiting Professor at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

back to the top

Selected Publications (Since 1990)

Bargh, J.A., & Chartrand, T. L. (1999). The unbearable automaticity of being. American Psychologist, 54, 462-479.

McKenna, K. Y. A., & Bargh, J. A. (1998). Coming out in the age of the Internet: Identity de-marginalization' from virtual group participation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 74 (September).

Bargh, J. A. (1999). The cognitive monster: The case against controllability of automatic stereotype effects. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual process theories in social psychology. New York: Guilford.

Wegner, D. M., & Bargh, J. A. (1998). Control and automaticity in social life. In D. Gilbert, S. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4/e). Boston: McGraw- Hill.

Chen, M., & Bargh, J. A. (1997). Nonconscious behavioral confirmation processes: The self-fulfilling nature of automatically-activated stereotypes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 33, 541-560.

Bargh, J. A. (1997). The automaticity of everyday life. In R. S. Wyer, Jr. (Ed.), The automaticity of everyday life: Advances in social cognition (Vol. 10, pp. 1-61). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1996). Automatic activation of social information processing goals: Nonconscious priming reproduces effects of explicit conscious instructions. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 71, 464-478.

Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows, L. (1996). Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotype priming on action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 230-244.

Gollwitzer, P. M., & Bargh, J. A. (Eds., 1996). The psychology of action: Linking motivation and cognition to behavior. New York: Guilford.

Bargh, J. A., Chaiken, S., Raymond, P., & Hymes, C. (1996). The automatic evaluation effect: Unconditional automatic attitude activation with a pronunciation task. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 32, 185-210.

Bargh, J. A., & Barndollar, K. (1996). Automaticity in action: The unconscious as repository of chronic goals and motives. In P. M. Gollwitzer & J. A. Bargh (Eds.), The psychology of action (pp. 457-471). New York: Guilford.

Bargh, J. A., Raymond, P., Pryor, J., & Strack, F. (1995). Attractiveness of the underling: An automatic power sex association and its consequences for sexual harassment and aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 768-781.

Bargh, J. A., & Raymond, P. (1995). The naive misuse of power: Nonconscious sources of sexual harassment. Journal of Social Issues, 26, 168-185.

Bargh, J. A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (1994). Environmental control over goal-directed action. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 41, 71-124.

Bargh, J. A. (1994). The Four Horsemen of automaticity: Awareness, efficiency, intention, and control in social cognition. In R. S. Wyer, Jr., & T. K. Srull (Eds.), Handbook of social cognition (2nd ed., pp. 1-40). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Bargh, J. A., Chaiken, S., Govender, R., & Pratto, F. (1992). The generality of the automatic attitude activation effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 893-912.

Bargh, J. A. (1992). Why subliminality does not matter to social psychology: Awareness of the stimulus versus awareness of its influence. In R. F. Bornstein & T. S. Pittman (Eds.), Perception without awareness (pp. 236-255). New York: Guilford.

Bargh, J. A. (1990). Auto-motives: Preconscious determinants of social interaction. In E. T. Higgins & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition (Vol. 2, pp. 93- 130). New York: Guilford.

back to the top


John A. Bargh
Professor of Psychology

Department of Psychology
New York University
6 Washington Place, Room 783
New York, NY 10003
Tel:(212) 998-7829
Fax: (212) 995-4966


back to the top