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Asking “why” helps action control by goals but not plans

Wieber, Frank, Sezer, Lisa A. and Gollwitzer, Peter M. (2014) Asking “why” helps action control by goals but not plans. Motivation and Emotion, 38 (1). pp. 65-78. ISSN 0146-7239

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11031-013-9364-3

Abstract

The present research investigated whether asking "why" concerning the pursuit of one goal can affect the subsequent pursuit of a previously chosen goal. Asking "why" should activate cognitive procedures involving deliberation over the pros and cons of a goal (why-mindset). This mode of thinking should spill over to subsequently pursued goals, with different consequences for goal striving guided by goal intentions and for goal striving guided by implementation intentions (if-then plans). As goal intentions guide behavior by effortful top-down action control processes motivated by the expected value of the desired outcomes, being in a why-mindset should induce defensive postdecisional deliberation and thereby promote goal pursuit. In contrast, implementation intentions guide behavior by automatic bottom-up action control processes triggered by the specified situational cues; in this case, being in a why-mindset should eliminate the effects implementation intentions have on goal pursuit. Performance on a handgrip self-control task (Study 1) as well as on a dual-task (simultaneous go/no-go task and tracking tasks; Study 2) supported these predictions: why-mindsets reinforced goal intention effects and impaired implementation intention effects on handgrip and dual-task performance. Implications for effective goal striving are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://link.springer.com/journal/11031
Additional Information: © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Research centres and groups > Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour Group
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2013 12:40
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 05:17
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/50913

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