Overview

Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) is a form of goal setting that incorporates self-regulation strategies developed by Oettingen & Gollwitzer (2010). It combines two strategies as briefly described below:

  1. Mental contrasting. This strategy involves the consideration of a desired future while contrasting it with the obstacles in the present that act as barriers to achieving the desired future (Oettingen, 2000, 2012). It does not appear to be purely positive thinking as it incorporates the current reality as part of the process of goal setting.

  2. Implementation initiatives. This strategy the involves planning to act to achieve the goals that the individual has set (Gollwitzer, 2014). For example, a person may set a goal of sleeping earlier but identify that one of the obstacles to achieving that may be the urge to watch movies late at night. In this situation, the person may set an if-then plan, e.g. “If I feel like watching movies late at night, then I will make a hot water bottle to prepare for sleep.”

This Shiny application was built to condense the above process into an interactive goal setting process.

Literature Review

To be completed.


Disclaimer

I have no affiliation with the original authors who developed mental contrasting with implementation intentions (Oettingen & Gollwitzer, 2010). This application was built for only illustrative and educational purposes.


References

Gollwitzer, P. M. (2014). Weakness of the will: Is a quick fix possible? Motivation and Emotion, 38(3), 305–322.

Oettingen, G. (2000). Expectancy effects on behavior depend on self-regulatory thought. Social Cognition, 18(2), 101–129.

Oettingen, G. (2012). Future thought and behaviour change. European Review of Social Psychology, 23(1), 1–63.

Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. (2010). Strategies of setting and implementing goals: Mental contrasting and implementation intentions.

How to use

  1. Specify the Wish, Best Outcome and Obstacles in the Mental Contrasting section.
  2. Once the Mental Contrasting section is completed, proceed to complete the Implementation Intentions section.
  3. You can print your goal if you'd like at the end of the exercise by clicking on the Print your Goal button.
  4. A summary of your goal is provided by clicking on the Summarise button.

Mental Contrasting (MC)

The example in the guiding placeholders below have been adopted from Valshtein et al. (2020) who studied the effects of MCII on bedtime procrastination. Mental contrasting alone will only focus on goal pursuit and attainment but does not sufficiently provide direction for facilitating action towards achieving those goals. Hence, Implementation Intentions is used in conjunction to facilitate action especially when obstacles are challenging.

Wish

Identify what your desired future is (e.g. getting to bed on time)

Best Outcome

Identify and mentally elaborate the best outcome (e.g. feeling well-rested)

Obstacles

Imagine an obstacle to reaching the goal (e.g. watching videos on the internet)

Implementation Intentions (II)

Implementation intentions are 'if-then' plans which provide details on how to further facilitate goal attainment.

If ...

Specifies a condition for which an action will be taken (e.g. if it is 11:00pm)

... Then

Specifies the action

Goal Summary

You know your goal and potential obstacles

Wish:
Best Outcome:
Obstacles:

Your plan should obstacles arise


About

Change History

24 August 2020

  • Added more information on how to use the app.
  • Remove the show/hide toggle buttons.
  • Added a Goal Summary section.

25 July 2020

  • Added more information to Introduction page.
  • Published for the first time.

References

Adriaanse, M. A., Oettingen, G., Gollwitzer, P. M., Hennes, E. P., De Ridder, D. T., & De Wit, J. B. (2010). When planning is not enough: Fighting unhealthy snacking habits by mental contrasting with implementation intentions (mcii). European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(7), 1277–1293.

Duckworth, A. L., Grant, H., Loew, B., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2011). Self-regulation strategies improve self-discipline in adolescents: Benefits of mental contrasting and implementation intentions. Educational Psychology, 31(1), 17–26.

Gollwitzer, P. M. (2014). Weakness of the will: Is a quick fix possible? Motivation and Emotion, 38(3), 305–322.

Oettingen, G. (2000). Expectancy effects on behavior depend on self-regulatory thought. Social Cognition, 18(2), 101–129.

Oettingen, G. (2012). Future thought and behaviour change. European Review of Social Psychology, 23(1), 1–63.

Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. (2010). Strategies of setting and implementing goals: Mental contrasting and implementation intentions.

Valshtein, T. J., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). Using mental contrasting with implementation intentions to reduce bedtime procrastination: Two randomised trials. Psychology & Health, 35(3), 275–301.