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Session Overview
KEY-2: Planning Improves Goal Striving
Time: Wednesday, 29/Aug/2012: 11:30am - 12:30pm
Session Chair: Peter Gollwitzer, New York University
Location: 311

Session Abstract

Forming strong goal commitments is a necessary first step to securing goal attainment. However, strong goal commitments are often not sufficient when goals are difficult to attain. For meeting difficult goals it becomes necessary that people make their goal striving particularly effective. But what can they do to enhance their goal striving and thus facilitate solving the typical problems of effective goal striving such as getting started, staying on track, selecting effective means, and acting efficiently? A promising answer is the following: People may plan out in advance how they want to solve these problems of goal implementation.

I will describe research showing that making if-then plans (i.e., forming implementation intentions) on how to deal with these problems is a very effective strategy. After an overview on research investigating how implementation intentions work, I will discuss the question of whether implementation intentions can be used to increase willpower on the spot. Research provides a positive answer to this question revealing that implementation intentions help people to meet their goals even when they are facing severe hindrances from within (e.g., lack of cognitive capabilities) or outside (i.e., difficult social situations or task demands that overtax executive functions). I will conclude that forming implementation intentions is an easy to use self-regulation tool that allows people to meet even difficult goals – and this without engaging in major efforts of self-change or attempts to change the situational context.

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Conference: ICM 2012
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