Asking "why" helps action control by goals but not plans

Date

2013-06-12

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

0146-7239

Volume Title

Publisher

Springer US

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

The present research investigated whether asking ‘‘why’’ concerning the pursuit of one goal can affect the subsequent pursuit of a previously chosen goal. Asking ‘‘why’’ should activate cognitive procedures involving deliberation over the pros and cons of a goal (why-mind- set). This mode of thinking should spill over to subse- quently pursued goals, with different consequences for goal striving guided by goal intentions and for goal striving guided by implementation intentions (if-then plans). As goal intentions guide behavior by effortful top-down action control processes motivated by the expected value of the desired outcomes, being in a why-mindset should induce defensive postdecisional deliberation and thereby promote goal pursuit. In contrast, implementation intentions guide behavior by automatic bottom-up action control processes triggered by the specified situational cues; in this case, being in a why-mindset should eliminate the effects implementation intentions have on goal pursuit. Perfor- mance on a handgrip self-control task (Study 1) as well as on a dual-task (simultaneous go/no-go task and tracking tasks; Study 2) supported these predictions: why-mindsets reinforced goal intention effects and impaired implemen- tation intention effects on handgrip and dual-task performance. Implications for effective goal striving are discussed.

Description

Keywords

Goal Intensions, Mindsets, Automaticity

Citation

Wieber, F., Sezer, L.A. and Gollwitzer, P. (2014) Asking "why" helps action control by goals but not plans. Motivation and Emotion, 38 (1), pp. 65-78

Rights

Research Institute

People, Organisations and Work Institute (POWI)