Automatic behavior is acquired over the course of a lifetime, being learned through repeated goal-directed behavior. The knowledge that is acquired and applied automatically in making judgments and decisions can include goals, procedures, semantic concepts, and subjective (e.g., affective) reactions. This entry reviews the definition and assessment of automatic behavior, the processes that underlie its acquisition, and descriptions of its effects both in comprehension and in making judgments and decisions.

Definition and Measurement

Automaticity refers to the extent to which behavior occurs without conscious cognitive deliberation. The behavior can be either motor or cognitive and can vary along four dimensions:

  • Awareness: the extent to which behavior is performed without conscious awareness
  • Intentionality: the extent to which behavior is performed deliberately or purposefully
  • Efficiency: the extent to which the behavior requires ...
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