Weakness of the will: Is a quick fix possible?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Weakness of the will may lead to ineffective goal striving in the sense that people lacking willpower fail to get started, to stay on track, to select instrumental means, and to act efficiently. However, using a simple self-regulation strategy (i.e., forming implementation intentions or making if-then plans) can get around this problem by drastically improving goal striving on the spot. After an overview of research investigating how implementation intentions work, I will discuss how people can use implementation intentions to overcome potential hindrances to successful goal attainment. Extensive empirical research shows that implementation intentions help people to meet their goals no matter whether these hindrances originate from within (e.g., lack of cognitive capabilities) or outside the person (i.e., difficult social situations). Moreover, I will report recent research demonstrating that implementation intentions can even be used to control impulsive cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses that interfere with one's focal goal striving. In ending, I will present various new lines of implementation intention research, and raise a host of open questions that still deserve further empirical and theoretical analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-322
Number of pages18
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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Research
Empirical Research
Self-Control

Keywords

  • Action control
  • Goal striving
  • If-then plans
  • Implementation intentions
  • Strategic automaticity
  • Willpower

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Weakness of the will : Is a quick fix possible? / Gollwitzer, Peter M.

In: Motivation and Emotion, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2014, p. 305-322.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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