Article (PDF Available)
DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2601(06)38002-1 · Source: OAI

Holding a strong goal intention ("I intend to reach Z!") does not guarantee goal achievement, because people may fail to deal effectively with selfregulatory problems during goal striving. This review analyzes wether realization of goal intentions is facilitated by forming an implementation intention that spells out the when, where, and how of goal striving in advance ("If situation Y is encountered, then I will initiate goal-directed behavior X!"). Findings from 94 independent tests showed that implementation intentions had a positive effect of medium-to-large magnitude (d= .65) on goal attainment. Implementation intentions were effective in promoting the initiation of goal striving, the shielding of ongoing goal pursuit from unwanted influences, disengagement from failing courses of action, and conservation of capability for future goal striving. There was also strong support for postulatad component processes: Implementation intention formation both enhanced the accessibility of specified opportunities and automated respective goal-directed responses. Several directions for future research are outlined.

Discover the world's research

First publ. in: Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 38 (2006), pp. 69-119
Konstanzer Online-Publikations-System (KOPS)
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A central focus of prospective memory research has been to understand how people self-generate the retrieval of intentions and how they remember to execute these intentions at appropriate times. In this chapter we review two theories that have stimulated much research toward explaining the cognitive underpinnings of prospective remembering, and then we consider a recently proposed theory that challenges these predominant theoretical approaches. As well, we review the empirical support for each of these three theories: the preparatory attentional and memory processes theory, the multiprocess theory, and the recently advanced delay theory.
    Chapter · Dec 2017 · Frontiers in Psychology
    • Taking the form " When x occurs, I must remember to perform y, " implementation intentions can take a general intention (e.g., I need to remember to take my medication) and provide strong contextual associations (e.g., When I have breakfast, I will take my medication) that increase the likelihood of reflexive retrieval upon encountering the contextual cues (i.e., those associated with breakfast). More specifically, tying the intention to environmental stimuli increases the likelihood of spontaneous retrieval, because eating breakfast can now serve as a strong cue for the intention to take medication (see Gollwitzer and Sheeran, 2006; McDaniel et al., 2008; McFarland and Glisky, 2012; Rummel et al., 2012 , for evidence showing that implementation intentions increase prospective memory performance).
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives: With regard to the pivotal role of physical activity (PA) in health protection, understanding how individuals maintain regular PA despite ubiquitous opportunities to adopt behaviors minimizing energetic costs (BMEC) appears crucial. The purpose of the present research was to test whether BMEC primes act as temptations and activate PA goals in successful exercisers. Design: Within and between-subjects experiments. Methods: Students in sports science (Experiment 1; N = 46) and individuals with high value of PA goals and low versus high PA levels (Experiment 2; N = 28) performed a primed-lexical decision task. Results: Experiment 1 revealed that BMEC primes facilitated the recognition of PA-related words, whereas PA primes did not facilitate the recognition of words related to BMEC. Experiment 2 showed that this facilitative effect was specific to individuals who were successful in reaching their PA goals. Conclusions: BMEC act as temptations that automatically activate the representation of PA goals in individual who manage to maintain regular PA.
    Full-text · Article · May 2017
    • For example, to develop protective cognitive associations between BMEC opportunities and PA goals, individuals may form the following plan: " If I see a BMEC opportunity (e.g., escalator), then I will search for an active alternative (e.g., stairs) " . Implemented intentions have shown to build strong associations between the cue and the specified response (Webb & Sheeran, 2007), thereby enabling individuals to control their behaviors in an efficient and automatic manner (Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006 , for a review). The development of such associations between BMEC cues and PA-related responses would modify PA behaviors and help intended exercisers to become successful in reaching their PA goals.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two studies examined whether implementation intentions, self-regulatory “if-then" plans, can alter social projection – people's tendency to automatically assume that other people share their attitudes. In Study 1 (N = 120), participants provided their attitudes on twenty items (e.g., “I like mechanics magazines"), and then formed either (1) a goal intention directed at reducing projection: “I will remember that other people are different!", (2) the same goal intention followed by an implementation intention: “If I'm asked to estimate what percent of other people agree with me, then I will remember that other people are different!", or (3) did not adopt any strategy (no-treatment control). Participants who formed an implementation intention were less likely to estimate that other people share their attitudes than did participants in the goal intention and control conditions. Study 2 (N = 268) replicated these results and additionally demonstrated that if-then plans can also increase projection. Overall, these findings indicate that if-then plans can be used to both decrease and increase social projection. Importantly, the latter finding is the first demonstration that implementation intentions can be used to intensify an existing automatic process. Thus, by forming implementation intentions, individuals can exercise dynamic control over nonconscious processes, that is, they can down-regulate as well as up-regulate such processes.
    Full-text · Article · May 2017 · Frontiers in Psychology
    • 4.1.1. Participants We conducted a power analysis based on a meta-analysis of close to 100 studies examining the effects of implementation intention on goal attainment (Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006; initiating a planned response: d = 0.61). This analysis revealed that approximately 112 participants would be needed to achieve 85% power (1 − β) at a 0.05 alpha level (α = 0.05).
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A plethora of studies has demonstrated that low-power negotiators attain lower outcomes compared to high-power negotiators. We argue that this low-power disadvantage can be conceptualized as impaired goal attainment and that self-regulation can help to overcome it. Three experiments tested this assertion. In Study 1, low-power negotiators attained lower profits compared to their high-power opponents in a face-to-face negotiation. Negotiators who set themselves goals and those who additionally formed if-then plans prior to the negotiation overcame the low-power disadvantage. Studies 2 and 3 replicated these effects in computer-mediated negotiations: Low-power negotiators conceded more than high-power negotiators. Again, setting goals and forming additional if-then plans helped to counter the power disadvantage. Process analyses revealed that negotiators’ concession-making at the start of the negotiation mediated both the low-power disadvantage and the beneficial effects of self-regulation. The present findings show how the low-power disadvantage unfolds in negotiations and how self-regulatory techniques can help to overcome it.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2017
    • Second, it remains unclear how exactly participants understood and processed the self-regulatory aid. This, equally, needs to be addressed—especially since, in contrast to earlier studies (Gollwitzer and Sheeran, 2006), only one of three studies (Study 3) demonstrated an incremental benefit of if-then plans compared to setting goals. The process analyses reported in Studies 2 and 3 may provide some insight into why this was the case.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Talking about eating in the passive, as opposed to the active voice, (e.g., The cake will be eaten vs. I will eat the cake) can lead people to see the act of eating to be triggered by the food to a greater extent, leading to the continuation of past eating habits. Depending on whether or not the past habits are healthy, the motivation for healthy eating may change as a result. In study 1, writing passive sentences increased the motivation for healthy eating to the extent that people reported eating healthy in the past. Moreover, in study 2 across 127 languages spoken in 94 countries, when the acted-upons of actions (e.g., the food in the act of eating) became relatively more salient in a language, people became more likely to act on cultural habits that may be relatively healthier, decreasing unhealthy eating. The results are important for understanding the perceived role of food in starting eating as it impacts healthy eating across cultures.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2017
    • Thus, the passive voice mindset may be more effective when people explicitly use passive sentences while they engage in a target behavior. One area of future research may be to train people to form implementation intentions that have been shown to be an effective way to merge the gap between intention and behavior across a variety of contexts (Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006). Such pre-formulated and linguistically expressed intentions about food cues (e.g., Whenever I encounter healthy food cues during my meals, I will say to myself " The food will be eaten " ) may be especially helpful in maintaining healthy eating among healthy eaters.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Humans and other animals discount the value of future rewards, a phenomenon known as delay discounting. Individuals vary widely in the extent to which they discount future rewards, and these tendencies have been associated with important life outcomes. Recent studies have demonstrated that imagining the future reduces subsequent discounting behavior, but no research to date has examined whether a similar principle applies at the trait level, and whether training visualization changes discounting. The current study examined if individual differences in visualization abilities are linked to individual differences in discounting and whether practicing visualization can change discounting behaviors in a lasting way. Participants (n = 48) completed the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ) and delay discounting task and then underwent a 4-week intervention consisting of visualization training (intervention) or relaxation training (control). Contrary to our hypotheses, participants who reported greater visualization abilities (lower scores) on the VVIQ were higher discounters. To further examine this relationship, an additional 106 participants completed the VVIQ and delay discounting task. In the total sample (n = 154), there was a significant negative correlation between VVIQ scores and discount rates, showing that individuals who are better visualizers are also higher discounters. Consistent with this relationship but again to our surprise, visualization training tended, albeit weakly, to increase discount rates, and those whose VVIQ decreased the most were those whose discount rates increased the most. These results suggest a novel association between visualization abilities and delay discounting.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2017
    • This focus on goals that might not be achieved may lead to a sense of deprivation that promotes increased impulsivity (Hoch and Loewenstein, 1991; Rachlin and Raineri, 1992). These possibilities are further supported by the literature on mental contrasting, which shows that imaging future goals alone does not improve success in achieving those goals, unless accompanied by making concrete plans as to how to achieve those goals (i.e., implementation intentions) (Oettingen, 2000; Gollwitzer and Sheeran, 2006; Kappes et al., 2013; Oettingen et al., 2015). Each of these three possible explanations for the trait associations we observed can be reconciled with reported state effects of imagination that go in the opposite direction, given that participants in studies of state effects imagine only future events, and these events are typically already planned or easily possible rather than highly desired goals (Peters and Büchel, 2010; Benoit et al., 2011; Lin and Epstein, 2014).

comments powered by Disqus