Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions Increases Goal-Attainment in Individuals with Mild to Moderate Depression

Anja Fritzsche, Björn Schlier, Gabriele Oettingen, Tania M. Lincoln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Depression is associated with difficulties initiating and performing goal-directed behavior. In healthy participants, the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) has been demonstrated to facilitate goal-directed behavior. We investigated whether people with depression benefit from using MCII in attaining their goals and whether MCII attenuates symptoms of depression. Forty-seven participants with depression were randomly assigned to a MCII-condition or a waiting-control-condition. Participants in the MCII-condition performed MCII on one depression-relevant goal (e.g. social/physical activities). Goal-attainment, changes in depression, and in self-efficacy expectations after 3 weeks were measured. Significantly more participants in the MCII-condition (78.6 %) than in the waiting-control-condition (31.6 %) attained their goal. We found no significant between-group effects on depression or self-efficacy, but there was a medium pre-to-post reduction in depression in the MCII-condition and only a small effect in the control-condition. MCII is a useful strategy to facilitate goal-pursuit in depression and may be a useful adjunct to interventions aimed at behavioral activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 13 2016



  • Activity-related goals
  • Depression
  • Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII)
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this