The Interplay Between Goal Intentions and Implementation Intentions

Published on Jan 1, 2005in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin4.376
· DOI :10.1177/0146167204271308
Paschal Sheeran94
Estimated H-index: 94
(University of Sheffield),
Thomas L. Webb46
Estimated H-index: 46
(University of Sheffield),
Peter M. Gollwitzer90
Estimated H-index: 90
Sources
Abstract
Two studies tested whether action control by implementation intentions is sensitive to the activation and strength of participants’ underlying goal intentions. In Study 1, participants formed implementation intentions (or did not) and their goal intentions were measured. Findings revealed a significant interaction between implementation intentions and the strength of respective goal intentions. Implementation intentions benefited the rate of goal attainment when participants had strong goal intentions but not when goal intentions were weak. Study 2 activated either a task-relevant or a neutral goal outside of participants’ conscious awareness and found that implementation intentions affected performance only when the relevant goal had been activated. These findings indicate that the rate of goal attainment engendered by implementation intentions takes account of the state (strength, activation) of people’s superordinate goal intentions.
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Forming an implementation intention (‘If I encounter situation X, then I'll perform behaviour Y!’) is thought to increase the likelihood that the person will detect a good opportunity to act. Experiment 1 found support for this hypothesis in a novel context where detection of the specified cue was very difficult. Experiments 2 and 3 extended existing paradigms to test whether this improved cue detection has costs in terms of increased false positives and/or slower responses to ambiguous stimuli....
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