Too Much of a Good Thing: The Benefits of Implementation Intentions Depend on the Number of Goals
Implementation intentions are specific plans regarding how, when, and where to pursue a goal (Gollwitzer). Forming implementation intentions for a single goal has been shown to facilitate goal achievement, but do such intentions benefit multiple goals? If so, people should form implementation intentions for all their goals, from eating healthily to tidying up. An investigation into this question suggests that the benefits of implemental planning for attaining a single goal do not typically extend to multiple goals. Instead, implemental planning draws attention to the difficulty of executing multiple goals, which undermines commitment to those goals relative to other desirable activities and thereby undermines goal success. Framing the execution of multiple goals as a manageable endeavor, however, reduces the perceived difficulty of multiple goal pursuit and helps consumers accomplish the various tasks they planned for. This research contributes to literature on goal management, goal specificity, the intention-behavior link, and planning.
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