Changing Behavior Using the Model of Action Phases

Lucas Keller, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Paschal Sheeran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The model of action phases makes a distinction between motivational (goal setting) and volitional (goal implementation) phases of goal pursuit. The model implies that changing the behavior of individuals who are in a pre-decisional action phase (i.e., have not crossed the “Rubicon” yet with respect to turning their many wishes into binding goals) needs a different approach than changing the behavior of people who are in a post-decisional phase (i.e., have crossed the Rubicon and need to implement their goals). The model is, therefore, also known as the “Rubicon” model. What exactly needs to be targeted to achieve behavior change in pre-decisional versus post-decisional individuals is addressed in the mindset theory of action phases, which explicates the Rubicon model in terms of the relevant psychological processes. It is argued that solving the tasks people face while still being pre-decisional requires different modes of thought (i.e., mindsets conceived of as a distinct assembly of activated cognitive procedures) than solving the tasks people face in post-decisional phases. These distinct features of pre-decisional (deliberative) versus post-decisional (implemental) mindsets as specified in the model need to be considered when trying to instigate behavior change. Furthermore, research on the implemental mindset has led to the discovery of a powerful self-regulation strategy promoting goal striving: the formation of implementation intentions. The chapter also outlines psychological mechanisms that underpin the facilitating effects of implementation intentions on behavior change and, when forming implementation intentions, are expected to help people to reach their goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Behavior Change
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781108677318
ISBN (Print)9781108496391
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • "Rubicon" model
  • Deliberative mindset
  • Goal implementation
  • Goal setting
  • Goal striving
  • Implemental mindset
  • Implementation intentions
  • Motivational action phase
  • Volitional action phase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Medicine


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