Staying on track: Planned goal striving is protected from disruptive internal states

Ute C. Bayer, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Anja Achtziger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past implementation intention research focused on shielding goal striving from disruptive internal states (e.g., being anxious) by forming if-then plans that link these very states to instrumental coping responses. In the present line of research, we investigated whether planning out goal striving by means of if-then plans specifying opportunities to initiate goal-directed responses also protects goal striving from the negative impact of disruptive internal states. Indeed, in the face of disruptive internal states, participants who had been asked to form implementation intentions that targeted opportunities for initiating goal-directed responses outperformed participants with a mere goal intention to do well on a focal task goal. Actually, implementation intention participants performed as well as control participants who were not burdened by disruptive internal states such as being in a certain mood (Study 1), ego-depleted (Study 2), or self-definitionally incomplete (Study 3). Results are discussed by pointing to the importance of hypo-egoic self-regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-514
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Disruptive internal states
  • Goal achievement
  • Goal shielding
  • Implementation intentions
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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