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Mental Contrasting Effects on Goal Commitment Mediated by Perceptual Change of Reality Andreas Kappes 1, Henrik Singmann 1 & Gabriele Oettingen 1,2 1 University.

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Presentation on theme: "Mental Contrasting Effects on Goal Commitment Mediated by Perceptual Change of Reality Andreas Kappes 1, Henrik Singmann 1 & Gabriele Oettingen 1,2 1 University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mental Contrasting Effects on Goal Commitment Mediated by Perceptual Change of Reality Andreas Kappes 1, Henrik Singmann 1 & Gabriele Oettingen 1,2 1 University of Hamburg 2 New York University Andreas Kappes 1, Henrik Singmann 1 & Gabriele Oettingen 1,2 1 University of Hamburg 2 New York University Poster presented at the Inaugural Meeting of the Society for the Study of Motivation in Chicago, IL, May 2008 Summary Mental contrasting, rather than reverse contrasting or dwelling leads high- expectancy participants to perceive the reality as standing in the way of the positive future. Importantly, this perceptual change of the negative reality mediated the expectancy-commitment relation in the mental contrasting condition. Mental Contrasting: A Self-Regulatory Strategy for Successful Goal Setting A long tradition of research suggests that people commit to goals that are desirable and feasible. Fantasy Realization Theory (Oettingen, 2000) spells out the self-regulatory strategy that translates feasibility (i.e., expectations of success) into goal commitment: Mental contrasting of a positive future with the negative reality that stands in the way of realizing the positive future. When people have high expectations of success, they form strong goal commitments; when people have low expectations of success, they form weak commitments (e.g., Oettingen, Pak, & Schnetter, 2001). To the contrary, when people contrast the negative reality with the positive future (i.e., reverse contrasting), expectations of success are not translated into goal commitment. The Present Research Investigating how mental contrasting achieves its commitment-inducing effects, we hypothesize that mental contrasting produces an expectancy-dependent perceptual change of the negative reality. When expectations of success are high, people assured to be able to realize the positive future, should perceived the negative reality as an obstacles that needs to be overcome in order to realize the positive reality. This perceptual change should then foster their goal commitment. In contrast, when expectations of success are low, people assured not to be able to realize the positive future, should not perceive the negative reality as an obstacle anymore. This perceptual change should then weaken their goal commitment. 1.Positive Future 2. Negative Reality 2. Positive Future 1. Negative Reality 2. Negative Reality Mental Contrasting Reverse ContrastingDwelling Induction of the Experimental Conditions Participants elaborated: Perceptual Change Indicator Perceived pleasantness of the impeding reality: Please rate the pleasantness of you impeding reality aspect, using the provided scale. (7-point semantic differential scale, ranging from pleasant to unpleasant) Goal Commitment Indicators (7-point scales) Time 1: Anticipated Disappointment How disappointed would you be if you do not achieve the wished-for grade? Time 2 (14 days later): Persistence in Goal Striving How intensely did you study this week for this particular final exam? How much effort did you invest in studying this week for this particular final exam? How focused were you on studying this week for this particular final exam? Methods Participants: 121 New York University students Wished-For Grade: Which grade do you wish to receive on the final exam of this class? Expectations of Success: How likely do you think it is that you will get the wished-for grade? (7-point scale) Importance of the wished-for grade: How important is it for you to receive the wished-for grade? Desired Future: Please list two positive aspects that you associate with achieving the wished-for grade Impeding Reality: Now, please list tow negative aspects that stand in the way of achieving the wished for grade. Mediation in the Mental Contrasting Condition Results Perceptual Change Participants in the mental contrasting evaluated the impeding reality in line with their expectations of success Participants in the reverse contrasting and in the dwelling condition did not. References Oettingen, G. (2000). Expectancy effects on behavior depend on self- regulatorythought. Social Cognition, 18, Oettingen, G., Pak, H., & Schnetter, K. (2001). Self-regulation of goal-setting: Turning free fantasies about the future into binding goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, Oettingen, G., & Thorpe, J. (2006). Fantasy realization and the bridging of time. In L. J. Sanna & E. C. Chang (Eds.), Judgments over time: The interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (pp ). New York: Oxford University Press Expectation Perceptual Change Disappointment β =.62** β =.-65** β =.13 (β =.50**) Expectation Perceptual Change Persistence β =.62** β =.42* β =.17 (β =.38*) Goal Commitment Participants in the mental contrasting reported expectancy-dependent effects on anticipated disappointment and persistence in goal striving. Participants in the reverse contrasting and in the dwelling condition did not. Abstract The self-regulatory strategy of mentally contrasting a positive future with negative reality produces expectancy-dependent goal commitments; elaborating reality only, or reality and then future does not. Investigating underlying processes, we found that the expectancy-dependent effects of mental contrasting on goal commitment (measured via anticipated disappointment and persistence in goal striving two weeks later) are mediated by the perceptual change of the reality as standing in the way of the desired future (measured via pleasantness ratings of the reality).


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