A meta-analysis on unconscious thought effects

Madelijn Strick*, Ap Dijksterhuis, Maarten W. Bos, Loran Nordgren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


A meta-analysis was performed on the unconscious thought effect (UTE). All available published and unpublished data on unconscious thought were included. Our aims were to provide a statistically robust estimate of the effect size of the UTE, to identify significant moderators, and to discuss possible underlying processes of the UTE. To assess the UTE, performance of participants thinking unconsciously was compared to participants thinking consciously, and to immediate decision makers. Across a total of 92 studies, the overall aggregated effect size was g = .224, with a 95% confidence interval from .145 to .303. This result provides strong support for the existence of the UTE. However, as estimated from a random-effects model, about 66% of the variance in effect sizes was attributable to systematic differences between studies. This result indicates that although the UTE is a real effect, it does not always occur. Several moderators were identified that help to explain the mixed results across various studies. The findings are discussed with regard to the boundary conditions and potential underlying processes of the UTE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-762
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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