The social creation of action and inaction: From concepts to goals to behaviors

Dolores Albarracin, Aashna Sunderrajan, Wenhao Dai, Benjamin X. White

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter presents a model of the cognitive, motivational, and behavioral implications of the concepts of action and inaction. The action or inaction nature of a behavior is a judgment, a subjective and variable construal, made by the actor or an observer based on concepts of action and inaction. In other literatures, action and inaction concepts entail affirming or negating of any behavior, but we posit that they are best defined in terms of level of effort and intentionality. People define action as more intentional and effortful than inaction and consequently establish default evaluations of action as more positive than inaction. In this chapter, we discuss how action and inaction are set as goals, how these goals differ from active and inactive means, and how these goals are implemented and considered complete. The chapter integrates disparate work on general action biases, action and inaction goals, and process models of goals. We describe specific principles that guide goal systems containing action and inaction goals, and the principles summarizing action-goal dominance at the stages of goal setting, implementation, and monitoring/completion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
EditorsJames M. Olson
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages49
ISBN (Print)9780128171691
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
ISSN (Print)0065-2601


  • Action
  • Attitude
  • Behavior change
  • Evaluation
  • Goal
  • Inaction
  • Judgment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The social creation of action and inaction: From concepts to goals to behaviors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this