Mental Contrasting With Implementation Intentions Reduces Drinking When Drinking Is Hazardous: An Online Self-Regulation Intervention

Sandra Wittleder, Andreas Kappes, Gabriele Oettingen, Peter Gollwitzer, Melanie Jay, Jon Morgenstern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction. Drinking alcohol has detrimental health consequences, and effective interventions to reduce hazardous drinking are needed. The self-regulation intervention of Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII) promotes behavior change across a variety of health behaviors. In this study, we tested if online delivery of MCII reduced hazardous drinking in people who were worried about their drinking. Method. Participants (N = 200, female = 107) were recruited online. They were randomized to learn MCII or solve simple math problems (control). Results. Immediately after the intervention, participants in the MCII condition (vs. control) reported an increased commitment to reduce drinking. After 1 month, they reported having taken action measured by the Readiness to Change drinking scale. When drinking was hazardous (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test ≥ 8, n = 85), participants in the MCII condition indicated a decreased number of drinking days, exp(β) = 0.47, CI (confidence interval) [−1.322, −.207], p =.02, and drinks per week, exp(β) = 0.57, CI [0.94, 5.514], p =.007, compared with the control condition. Discussion. These findings demonstrate that a brief, self-guided online intervention (Mdn = 28 minutes) can reduce drinking in people who worry about their drinking. Our findings show a higher impact in people at risk for hazardous drinking. Conclusion. MCII is scalable as an online intervention. Future studies should test the cost-effectiveness of the intervention in real-world settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • alcohol
  • computer-mediated health promotion
  • Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII)
  • self-guided brief intervention
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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