Neurophysiological correlates of the self-regulation of goal pursuit

Inge Schweiger Gallo, Anna Lisa Cohen, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Successful goal pursuit requires first selecting and strongly committing to desirable and feasible goals and then effectively implementing them. These two tasks are facilitated by two self-regulatory strategies: The first one, mental contrasting, promotes expectancy-dependent committing and striving for goals, and the second one, forming implementation intentions, aids to overcome obstacles on the way to goal attainment. Despite extensive research on the effects and processes associated with mental contrasting and implementation intentions, not until recently have their underlying neurophysiological correlates been analyzed. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) data suggest that mental contrasting is indeed a purposeful problem-solving strategy that differs much from merely indulging in a desired positive future. Moreover, Electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data support the assumption that by forming implementation intentions people can strategically automate goal striving and thus facilitate goal attainment. Both mental contrasting (MC) and implementation intentions (II) have recently been integrated into a powerful behavior change intervention called MCII that qualifies as a cost- and time-effective self-regulation intervention to help people choose appropriate health-related goals and successfully implement them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Neuroscience and Public Health
Subtitle of host publicationFoundations for the Science of Chronic Disease Prevention
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781461468523
ISBN (Print)9781461468516
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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