From Fantasy to Action: Mental Contrasting With Implementation Intentions (MCII) Improves Academic Performance in Children

Angela Lee Duckworth, Teri A. Kirby, Anton Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The current intervention tested whether a metacognitive self-regulatory strategy of goal pursuit can help economically disadvantaged children convert positive thoughts and images about their future into effective action. Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) entails mental contrasting a desired future with relevant obstacles of reality and forming implementation intentions (if-then plans) specifying when and where to overcome those obstacles. Seventy-seven 5th graders from an urban middle school were randomly assigned to learn either MCII or a Positive Thinking control strategy. Compared to children in the control condition, children taught how to apply MCII to their academic wishes and concerns significantly improved their report card grades (η2 =.07), attendance (η2 =.05), and conduct (η2 =.07). These findings suggest that MCII holds considerable promise for helping disadvantaged middle school children improve their academic performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-753
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume4
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Keywords

  • MCII
  • achievement
  • adolescence
  • goals
  • intervention
  • mental contrasting with implementation intentions
  • motivation
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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