The cognitive processes that support and maintain goal pursuit have become a central issue among researchers studying self-regulation and motivation (Gollwitzer & Bargh, 1994; Oettingen & Gollwitzer, 2001; Shah & Kruglanski, 2000; Sorrentino & Higgins, 1986). Two key notions in self-regulation research on goals are the model of action phases (Gollwitzer, 1990; Heckhausen, 1991; Heckhausen & Gollwitzer, 1987) and the concept of implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, 1993, 1996) as both address the complex interaction of cognitive and motivational processes. The model of action phases posits distinct consecutive stages of goal pursuit an individual has to successfully navigate to attain a goal and implies that self-regulation within each stage is facilitated by developing the respective mindset. On the other hand, implementation intentions (a concept stimulated by the action-phase model) are specific self-regulatory tools aimed at helping individuals plan and initiate goal-directed actions. A further self-regulatory process that has been identified to foster goal attainment is mental simulation (Escalas & Luce, 2003, 2004; Greitemeyer & Wuerz, 2006; Pham & Taylor, 1999; Phillips & Baumgartner, 2002; Taylor & Pham, 1999). However, so far the cognitive processes associated with mental simulation have not been studied within the framework of the model of action phases or in comparison to implementation intentions.
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