Collective action control by goals and plans: Applying a self-regulation perspective to group performance

Frank Wieber, J. Lukas Thürmer, Peter M. Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In celebration of the 125th anniversary of The American Journal of Psychology, this article discusses a seminal publication by Marjorie Shaw (1932) on small group performance in the rational solution of complex problems. We then propose an approach for the effective regulation of group goal striving based on the collective action control perspective. From this perspective, group performance might be hindered by a collective intention-behavior gap: Groups fail to act on their intentions despite being strongly committed to the collective goal, knowing what the necessary actions are, and being capable of performing them. To reduce this gap, we suggest specific if-then plans (implementation intentions) in which groups specify when, where, and how to act toward their collective goal as an easily applicable self-regulation strategy to automate collective action control. Studies in which implementation intentions improved group performance in hidden profile, escalation of commitment, and cooperation task paradigms are reported and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-290
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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