Mental contrasting and the self-regulation of helping relations

Gabriele Oettingen, Elizabeth J. Stephens, Doris Mayer, Babette Brinkmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While mental contrasting of positive future and negative reality promotes commitment to feasible goals, it has not been tested whether it also promotes the choice of suitable means. In two studies we examined the effects of mental contrasting (oettingen, 2000) on seeking and giving help as means to an end. For college-age students, mental contrasting about attaining academic help led to expectancy-dependent commitment to seek help (Study 1), while for critical care nurses, mental contrasting about helping patients' relatives led to expectancydependent commitment to give help (Study 2). results speak to two neglected topics: the self-regulation of selecting means to goals and the self-regulation of helping relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-508
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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