Spontaneous Mental Contrasting and Selective Goal Pursuit

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Mental contrasting a desired future with reality is a self-regulation strategy that fosters selective goal pursuit; people pursue goals for which they have high expectations of success, and let go of those for which they have low expectations. Indulging in the future, dwelling on the reality, or contrasting the reality with the future lead to indiscriminate goal pursuit. We developed a content analytic measure to observe spontaneous mental contrasting in people writing about an important wish (Study 1). Just like induced mental contrasting, spontaneous mental contrasting predicted selective goal pursuit measured by self-reported performance (Study 2) and observed performance (Study 3). The developed coding scheme opens the way to investigating situation, person, and cultural predictors of spontaneous mental contrasting.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1240-1254
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 09.2013
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • content analysis, expectations, goal pursuit, mental contrasting, performance
  • Psychology