Supporting sustainable food consumption: Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) aligns intentions and behavior

Laura S. Loy, Frank Wieber, Peter Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

With growing awareness that sustainable consumption is important for quality of life on earth, many individuals intend to act more sustainably. In this regard, interest in reducing meat consumption is on the rise. However, people often do not translate intentions into actual behavior change. To address this intention-behavior gap, we tested the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII). Here, people identify and imagine a desired future and current obstacles standing in its way. They address the obstacles with if-then plans specifying when, where, and how to act differently. In a 5-week randomized controlled experimental study, we compared an information + MCII intervention with an information-only control intervention. As hypothesized, only MCII participants' intention of reducing their meat consumption was predictive of their actual reduction, while no correspondence between intention and behavior change was found for control participants. Participants with a moderate to strong intention to reduce their meat consumption reduced it more in the MCII than in the control condition. Thus, MCII helped to narrow the intention-behavior gap and supported behavior change for those holding moderate and strong respective intentions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number607
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume7
Issue numberAPR
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Fingerprint

Food
Meat
Quality of Life

Keywords

  • Behavior change intervention
  • Implementation intention
  • Intention-behavior gap
  • Meat consumption
  • Mental contrasting
  • Sustainable consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

@article{f8e21c0c40294e8e9cb8d437cf50dd14,
title = "Supporting sustainable food consumption: Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) aligns intentions and behavior",
abstract = "With growing awareness that sustainable consumption is important for quality of life on earth, many individuals intend to act more sustainably. In this regard, interest in reducing meat consumption is on the rise. However, people often do not translate intentions into actual behavior change. To address this intention-behavior gap, we tested the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII). Here, people identify and imagine a desired future and current obstacles standing in its way. They address the obstacles with if-then plans specifying when, where, and how to act differently. In a 5-week randomized controlled experimental study, we compared an information + MCII intervention with an information-only control intervention. As hypothesized, only MCII participants' intention of reducing their meat consumption was predictive of their actual reduction, while no correspondence between intention and behavior change was found for control participants. Participants with a moderate to strong intention to reduce their meat consumption reduced it more in the MCII than in the control condition. Thus, MCII helped to narrow the intention-behavior gap and supported behavior change for those holding moderate and strong respective intentions.",
keywords = "Behavior change intervention, Implementation intention, Intention-behavior gap, Meat consumption, Mental contrasting, Sustainable consumption",
author = "Loy, {Laura S.} and Frank Wieber and Peter Gollwitzer and Gabriele Oettingen",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00607",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "7",
journal = "Frontiers in Psychology",
issn = "1664-1078",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S. A.",
number = "APR",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Supporting sustainable food consumption

T2 - Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) aligns intentions and behavior

AU - Loy, Laura S.

AU - Wieber, Frank

AU - Gollwitzer, Peter

AU - Oettingen, Gabriele

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - With growing awareness that sustainable consumption is important for quality of life on earth, many individuals intend to act more sustainably. In this regard, interest in reducing meat consumption is on the rise. However, people often do not translate intentions into actual behavior change. To address this intention-behavior gap, we tested the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII). Here, people identify and imagine a desired future and current obstacles standing in its way. They address the obstacles with if-then plans specifying when, where, and how to act differently. In a 5-week randomized controlled experimental study, we compared an information + MCII intervention with an information-only control intervention. As hypothesized, only MCII participants' intention of reducing their meat consumption was predictive of their actual reduction, while no correspondence between intention and behavior change was found for control participants. Participants with a moderate to strong intention to reduce their meat consumption reduced it more in the MCII than in the control condition. Thus, MCII helped to narrow the intention-behavior gap and supported behavior change for those holding moderate and strong respective intentions.

AB - With growing awareness that sustainable consumption is important for quality of life on earth, many individuals intend to act more sustainably. In this regard, interest in reducing meat consumption is on the rise. However, people often do not translate intentions into actual behavior change. To address this intention-behavior gap, we tested the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII). Here, people identify and imagine a desired future and current obstacles standing in its way. They address the obstacles with if-then plans specifying when, where, and how to act differently. In a 5-week randomized controlled experimental study, we compared an information + MCII intervention with an information-only control intervention. As hypothesized, only MCII participants' intention of reducing their meat consumption was predictive of their actual reduction, while no correspondence between intention and behavior change was found for control participants. Participants with a moderate to strong intention to reduce their meat consumption reduced it more in the MCII than in the control condition. Thus, MCII helped to narrow the intention-behavior gap and supported behavior change for those holding moderate and strong respective intentions.

KW - Behavior change intervention

KW - Implementation intention

KW - Intention-behavior gap

KW - Meat consumption

KW - Mental contrasting

KW - Sustainable consumption

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84974603889&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84974603889&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00607

DO - 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00607

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84974603889

VL - 7

JO - Frontiers in Psychology

JF - Frontiers in Psychology

SN - 1664-1078

IS - APR

M1 - 607

ER -