Mental contrasting facilitates academic performance in school children

Anton Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen, Teri A. Kirby, Angela L. Duckworth, Doris Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two brief intervention studies tested whether teaching students to mentally contrast a desired future with its present reality resulted in better academic performance than teaching students to only think about the desired future. German elementary school children (N = 49; Study 1) and US middle school children (N = 63; Study 2) from low-income neighborhoods who were taught mental contrasting achieved comparatively higher scores in learning foreign language vocabulary words after 2 weeks or 4 days, respectively. Results have implications for research on the self-regulation of commitment to solve assigned tasks in classroom settings, and for increasing academic performance in school children in low-income areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-412
Number of pages10
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Academic performance
  • Behavior change
  • Desired future
  • Goal commitment
  • Mental contrasting
  • Positive thinking
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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