The Role of the Goal Concept in Motivation Science; Future Thought and Behavior Change



The Role of the Goal Concept in Motivation Science by Peter M. Gollwitzer

In my talk, I will try to elucidate how relying on the goal concept facilitates the development and testing of theories in the science of motivation. For this purpose, I will focus on those theories whose development I was closely involved with: the self-completion theory (Wicklund & Gollwitzer, 1982), the mindset theory of action phases (Heckhausen & Gollwitzer, 1987; Gollwitzer, 1990), and the theory of if-then planning (Gollwitzer, 1999, 2014). So the focus is not on discussing the many different goal theories that have been developed and tested in the psychology of motivation by addressing the consequences of setting, striving for, and attaining goals of a different kind, or the various self-regulation strategies that have been suggested to help people commit to, pursue, and attain these goals. Rather, I’ll try to demonstrate convincingly that the goal concept is a powerful tool when it comes to creating theories that facilitate the understanding of phenomena that are at the center stage in the science of motivation.

Future Thought and Behavior Change by Gabriele Oettingen

 “Think positive!” quotes are found everywhere, but contrary to popular belief thinking positively about the future can lead to low effort and little success. So, how can we avoid the perils of positive thinking? By juxtaposing our dreams with personal obstacles, we pursue desired futures that are in our reach and we let go from those that are not. I will talk about this self-regulation strategy of juxtaposing future and obstacle, called mental contrasting, its non-conscious mechanisms, and how people can use it as a cost- and time-effective tool to autonomously fulfil their wishes and resolve their concerns. Combining mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) has proven to be particularly effective in changing thought, feeling, and behavior. MCII or – Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan (WOOP) – can be used as a multifaceted change agent to improve one’s everyday-life and long-term development.