When Planning Is Needed: Implementation Intentions and Attainment of Approach Versus Avoidance Health Goals

Helen W. Sullivan, Alexander J Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: This study tested whether forming implementation intentions is an effective strategy for attaining health goals focused on trying to avoid a negative state. Design: Participants chose to either eat more healthy snacks (i.e., an approach goal) or eat fewer unhealthy snacks (i.e., an avoidance goal) over two weeks and were randomly assigned to create an implementation intention to do this or not. Main outcome measures: The authors measured fat and calorie intake after one week and after two weeks. Results: After two weeks, the participants who ate most unhealthily were those who pursued an avoidance goal and did not form an implementation intention. Conclusion: These results suggest that forming implementation intentions for avoidance goal pursuit can help people attain important health goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-444
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008

Keywords

  • avoidance goals
  • implementation intentions
  • nutrition
  • plans

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