Attenuating the Escalation of Commitment to a Faltering Project in Decision-Making Groups: An Implementation Intention Approach

Frank Wieber, J. Lukas Thürmer, Peter M. Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


When groups receive negative feedback on their progress toward a set goal, they often escalate rather than temper their commitment. To attenuate such escalation, we suggest initiating a self-distancing response (i.e., taking the perspective of a neutral observer) by forming implementation intentions when, where, and how to act (i.e., making if-then plans). Implementation intentions should help groups to translate a self-distancing intention into action. In line with this reasoning, only groups that had added implementation intentions to their goal to make optimal investment decisions reduced their high levels of investment (Study 1) or maintained their moderate levels of investment (Study 2) after negative feedback. Groups that had merely formed goal intentions, however, escalated even when their decision goal was supplemented with self-distancing instructions (Study 1), and they escalated as much as control groups without such a goal (Study 2). Implications for improving group decision making by implementation intentions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-595
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 5 2015



  • escalation of commitment
  • goals
  • group decision making
  • implementation intention
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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