Owning the plan: The role of autonomous if-then planning for goal progress and action crisis

Anne Holding, Christine Cunningham, Richard Koestner, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autonomous motivation arising from a sense of truly valuing or enjoying one's pursuits (“wanting to do it”) is associated with goal progress and well-being. Likewise, setting an implementation intention in the form of an if-then plan can lead to improved goal outcomes. We introduce the concept of autonomous motivation for if-then plans and study its association with plan enactment, goal progress, and action crisis severity (goal conflict) in the context of a goal study (N = 379). Results suggest that autonomous goal motivation is positively related to autonomous if-then plan motivation. Moreover, analyses reveal a positive synergistic effect of autonomous if-then plan motivation and frequency of plan enactment on goal progress and action crises: Goal progress was boosted, and action crises were minimized with higher autonomous if-then plan motivation and greater frequency of plan enactment. Implications of these results for promoting goal striving are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112617
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Action crisis
  • Autonomous motivation
  • Goal progress
  • If-then plans
  • Implementation intentions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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