Up and down regulation of a highly automatic process: Implementation intentions can both increase and decrease social projection

Anton Gollwitzer, Bettina Schwörer, Chadly Stern, Peter M. Gollwitzer, John A. Bargh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Two studies examined whether implementation intentions, self-regulatory “if-then” plans, can alter social projection – people's tendency to automatically assume that other people share their attitudes. In Study 1 (N = 120), participants provided their attitudes on twenty items (e.g., “I like mechanics magazines”), and then formed either (1) a goal intention directed at reducing projection: “I will remember that other people are different!”, (2) the same goal intention followed by an implementation intention: “If I'm asked to estimate what percent of other people agree with me, then I will remember that other people are different!”, or (3) did not adopt any strategy (no-treatment control). Participants who formed an implementation intention were less likely to estimate that other people share their attitudes than did participants in the goal intention and control conditions. Study 2 (N = 268) replicated these results and additionally demonstrated that if-then plans can also increase projection. Overall, these findings indicate that if-then plans can be used to both decrease and increase social projection. Importantly, the latter finding is the first demonstration that implementation intentions can be used to intensify an existing automatic process. Thus, by forming implementation intentions, individuals can exercise dynamic control over nonconscious processes, that is, they can down-regulate as well as up-regulate such processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume70
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Keywords

  • Automaticity
  • False consensus
  • Implementation intentions
  • Projection
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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