Planning is for doing: implementation intentions go beyond the mere creation of goal-directed associations

Papies, E. K. , Aarts, H. and de Vries, N. K. (2009) Planning is for doing: implementation intentions go beyond the mere creation of goal-directed associations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(5), pp. 1148-1151. (doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2009.06.011)

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Studies on implementation intentions so far have mainly pointed towards strengthened cue-behavior associations as the mechanism underlying the effectiveness of this self-regulatory tool. However, we propose that because it triggers people to look into the future and to mentally simulate their future behavior, planning by means of implementation intentions might go beyond the creation of goal-directed associations and thus lead to more enduring effects on behavior. We tested this hypothesis in an experiment using a longitudinal design, where participants formed an intention for a behavior that deviates from their routine, and furnished it either with associative learning of cue and behavior, forming implementation intentions, or nothing at all. Results showed that initially, learning cue-behavior associations led to the same rate of goal completion as forming implementation intentions. However, only the effect of implementation intentions was maintained at the second measurement one week later. These findings suggest that planning does more than merely create goal-directed associations, which might offer a new perspective on the workings and use of this important tool for behavior change.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Papies, Dr Esther
Authors: Papies, E. K., Aarts, H., and de Vries, N. K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
ISSN (Online):1096-0465

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