Self-regulation strategies improve self-discipline in adolescents

Benefits of mental contrasting and implementation intentions

Angela Lee Duckworth, Heidi Grant, Benjamin Loew, Gabriele Oettingen, Peter M. Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Adolescents struggle with setting and striving for goals that require sustained self-discipline. Research on adults indicates that goal commitment is enhanced by mental contrasting (MC), a strategy involving the cognitive elaboration of a desired future with relevant obstacles of present reality. Implementation intentions (II), which identify the action one will take when a goal-relevant opportunity arises, represent a strategy shown to increase goal attainment when commitment is high. This study tests the effect of mental contrasting combined with implementation intentions (MCII) on successful goal implementation in adolescents. Sixty-six 2nd-year high school students preparing to take a highstakes exam in the fall of their third year were randomly assigned to complete either a 30-minute written mental contrasting with implementation intentions intervention or a placebo control writing exercise. Students in the intervention condition completed more than 60% more practice questions than did students in the control condition. These findings point to the utility of directly teaching to adolescents mental contrasting with implementation intentions as a self-regulatory strategy of successful goal pursuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Psychology
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

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self-regulation
adolescent
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goal attainment
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Intelligence Tests
Self-Control
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Placebos
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present
school
Research

Keywords

  • Academic performance
  • Adolescent
  • Goal setting
  • Intervention
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education

Cite this

Self-regulation strategies improve self-discipline in adolescents : Benefits of mental contrasting and implementation intentions. / Duckworth, Angela Lee; Grant, Heidi; Loew, Benjamin; Oettingen, Gabriele; Gollwitzer, Peter M.

In: Educational Psychology, Vol. 31, No. 1, 01.2011, p. 17-26.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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