Action control by implementation intentions: Effective cue detection and efficient response initiation

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Social Cognition


Past research has demonstrated that implementation intentions (i.e., if–then plans) facilitate goal striving by two processes: increasing the activation of the anticipated situational cue (the if–process) and automating the goal–directed response to that cue (the then–process; Gollwitzer, 1999; Webb & Sheeran, in press). Two studies investigated the implications for the course of goal striving guided by implementation intentions. When implementation intentions achieved their effects by facilitating cue identification (the if–process), alternative cues were disregarded (Study 1). On the contrary, when implementation intentions achieved their effects by the automation of the critical response (the then–process), alternative goal–directed responses were still considered (Study 2). We discuss these results with respect to the functioning of implementation intentions and the use of alternative means in planned goal pursuit.


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