Self-regulation strategies improve self-discipline in adolescents: Benefits of mental contrasting and implementation intentions

Angela Lee Duckworth, Heidi Grant, Benjamin Loew, Gabriele Oettingen, Peter M. Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Adolescents struggle with setting and striving for goals that require sustained self-discipline. Research on adults indicates that goal commitment is enhanced by mental contrasting (MC), a strategy involving the cognitive elaboration of a desired future with relevant obstacles of present reality. Implementation intentions (II), which identify the action one will take when a goal-relevant opportunity arises, represent a strategy shown to increase goal attainment when commitment is high. This study tests the effect of mental contrasting combined with implementation intentions (MCII) on successful goal implementation in adolescents. Sixty-six 2nd-year high school students preparing to take a highstakes exam in the fall of their third year were randomly assigned to complete either a 30-minute written mental contrasting with implementation intentions intervention or a placebo control writing exercise. Students in the intervention condition completed more than 60% more practice questions than did students in the control condition. These findings point to the utility of directly teaching to adolescents mental contrasting with implementation intentions as a self-regulatory strategy of successful goal pursuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Psychology
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Keywords

  • Academic performance
  • Adolescent
  • Goal setting
  • Intervention
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Self-regulation strategies improve self-discipline in adolescents: Benefits of mental contrasting and implementation intentions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this