Mental contrasting instigates goal pursuit by linking obstacles of reality with instrumental behavior

Andreas Kappes, Henrik Singmann, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The self-regulatory strategy of mental contrasting a desired future with obstacles of reality instigates goal-directed behavior when expectations of success are high and curbs goal-directed behavior when expectations are low (Oettingen, 2000). Two studies show that mental contrasting paired with high expectations of success creates strong associations between obstacles of reality and behavior instrumental to overcome these obstacles; mental contrasting paired with low expectations of success leads to weak associations. Reverse contrasting and irrelevant content control conditions did not produce expectancy-dependent associations between obstacle and instrumental behavior. Importantly, the strength of these associations mediated mental contrasting effects on goal-directed behavior (Study 2).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-818
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2012

Keywords

  • Association
  • Expectation
  • Goal-directed behaviour
  • Mental contrasting
  • Obstacle
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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