Self-regulation of priming effects on behavior

Peter M. Gollwitzer, Paschal Sheeran, Roman Trötschel, Thomas L. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In three experiments, we tested whether people can protect their ongoing goal pursuits from antagonistic priming effects by using if-then plans (i.e., implementation intentions). In Experiment 1, concept priming did not influence lexical decision time for a critical stimulus when participants had formed if-then plans to make fast responses to that stimulus. In Experiment 2, participants who were primed with a prosocial goal allowed a confederate who asked for help to interrupt their work on a focal task for a longer time if they had merely formed goal intentions to perform well than if they had also formed implementation intentions for concentrating on the task. In Experiment 3, priming the goal of being fast increased driving speed and errors for participants who had formed mere goal intentions to drive only as fast as safety allowed or who had formed no goal intentions, whereas the driving of participants who had formed such goal intentions as well as implementation intentions showed no such priming effects. Our findings indicate that implementation intentions are an effective self-regulatory tool for shielding actions from disruptive concept- or goal-priming effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-907
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • action control
  • behavior priming
  • implementation intentions
  • self-regulation
  • shielding goal pursuits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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