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Implementation Intentions

  • By: Elizabeth J. Parks-Stamm, Anja Achtziger & Peter M. Gollwitzer
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)

A goal intention specifies a desired future state in the form of “I intend to perform/achieve Z!” (e.g., to exercise frequently/to be thin). However, merely setting a goal, or wanting very much to achieve it, is not sufficient to actually attain it. The correlation between goal intentions and actual behavior is quite low; the strength of one's goal intention typically explains only 20% to 30% of the variance in goal achievement. One strategy designed to improve goal attainment is to additionally form an implementation intention. An implementation intention is a simple plan in the form of “If X, then I will Y!” that specifies an anticipated goal-relevant situation, X, and a goal-directed response, Y, that will help achieve the goal. For example, an implementation intention ...

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