Self-Control by If-Then Planning
Monday, March 16, 2009
Peter M. Gollwitzer
New York University/ University of Konstanz
Research on self-regulation and self-control has defined its object of interest by emphasizing different phenomena and processes. The many targeted phenomena include overriding unwanted thoughts (e.g., related to distractions, temptations, stereotyping, self-inflation), feelings (e.g., anger, disgust, fear, sadness, prejudice), and behaviors (e.g., aggressive, immoral, risky, health-damaging, underachieving). The various processes that are assumed to promote self-regulation and self-control pertain to fostering the wanted over the unwanted by cognitively inhibiting the unwanted and/or activating the wanted, or by modifying one’s current or anticipated emotions so that the wanted can be executed more easily and the unwanted can be more easily halted or prevented. Gollwitzer will argue that goal attainment is facilitated when people plan out their goal striving in advance. More specifically, he will suggest that regulating one’s goal striving by making if-then plans (i.e., form implementation intentions) is a time and cost effective way to achieve self-control.