Combined effect of mental contrasting and implementation intention on college students’ book reading

Guoxia Wang1, Xiaosong Gai1
1Department of Psychology, Northeast Normal University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Wang, G., & Gai, X. (2016). Combined effect of mental contrasting and implementation intention on college students’ book reading. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 44(5), 767-784.

Volume 44 Issue 5 | e5218 | Published: June 2016 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2016.44.5.767

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The combining of mental contrasting with implementation intention (MCII) as a self- regulation strategy for goal pursuit enhances goal attainment. Our aims in this study were as follows: (a) confirm the effect of MCII in this context, and (b) explore how the features of MCII affect goal-pursuit behaviors in a book-reading task. We randomly assigned 90 college students to either an MCII intervention condition or a control condition. The results showed that participants in the MCII intervention group did not exert more effort in reading the book than did the participants in the control condition. However, analysis within the MCII intervention condition group showed that the number of written words in the MCII exercise phase (quantity), the integrity of the participants’ implementation intention, and the mental contrasting specificity (quality) of MCII affected the participants’ reading behavior and achievement. Finally, further analysis of mental contrasting content revealed that, compared with participants for whom the obstacles to completing the assigned reading were internal, such as lack of self-control or lack of interest in the subject matter, participants who identified external obstacles, such as the need to complete other study assignments or to work in part-time employment, spent more time on reading the assigned book. These findings suggest that the features of MCII have a vital influence on behavior and achievement.

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