Implementation intentions as goal primes: boosting self-control in tempting environments

van Koningsbruggen, G. M., Stroebe, W., Papies, E. K. and Aarts, H. (2011) Implementation intentions as goal primes: boosting self-control in tempting environments. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(5), pp. 551-557. (doi:10.1002/ejsp.799)

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Abstract

People often forget their long-term strivings because their environment confronts them with attractive temptations. Previous research suggests that self-control failures can be prevented by reminding people of their higher-order goal. Therefore, we hypothesized that using implementation intentions as a tool to directly re-activate people's higher-order goal in tempting situations would effectively enhance self-control. We tested this in the domain of dieting behavior. Results demonstrated that this specific planning strategy activated the dieting goal for unsuccessful dieters when exposed to tempting food cues (Study 1) and reduced their consumption of calorically dense food across 2 weeks (Study 2) compared to those in control conditions. This suggests that preparing people to think of their higher-order goal when tempted can be used to protect ongoing goal striving. Appealing to higher-order goals potentially makes implementation intentions flexible instruments of self-regulation as this should trigger motivated behavior to reach goals and initiate various goal-instrumental actions.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Papies, Dr Esther
Authors: van Koningsbruggen, G. M., Stroebe, W., Papies, E. K., and Aarts, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:European Journal of Social Psychology
Publisher:John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
ISSN:0046-2772
ISSN (Online):1099-0992

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