Achtziger, Anja

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Committing to implementation intentions : Attention and memory effects for selected situational cues

2011, Achtziger, Anja, Bayer, Ute C., Gollwitzer, Peter M.

Two studies tested whether forming implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, Am Psychol 54:493–503 in 1999) results in a heightened activation of specified situational cues. Going beyond prior studies, participants of the present studies specified these opportunities on their own (i.e., the action cues were not assigned by the experimenter), and activation level was assessed by attraction of attention and recall performance rather than lexical decisions. In Study 1, situational cues associated with the where and when to act on an everyday life goal attracted more attention than non-specified cues when presented to the non-attended channel in a dichotic listening task. In Study 2, the recall of specified cues was better than that of non-specified cues both 15 min after forming implementation intentions and after a delay of 2 days. Importantly, goal commitment and implementation intention commitment moderated this effect.

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Staying on track: Planned goal striving is protected from disruptive internal states

2010, Bayer, Ute C., Gollwitzer, Peter M., Achtziger, Anja

Past implementation intention research focused on shielding goal striving from disruptive internal states (e.g., being anxious) by forming if then plans that link these very states to instrumental coping responses. In the present line of research, we investigated whether planning out goal striving by means of if then plans specifying opportunities to initiate goal-directed responses also protects goal striving from the negative impact of disruptive internal states. Indeed, in the face of disruptive internal states, participants who had been asked to form implementation intentions that targeted opportunities for initiating goal-directed responses outperformed participants with a mere goal intention to do well on a focal task goal. Actually, implementation intention participants performed as well as control participants who were not burdened by disruptive internal states such as being in a certain mood (Study 1), ego-depleted (Study 2), or self-definitionally incomplete (Study 3). Results are discussed by pointing to the importance of hypo-egoic self-regulation.