Article

Consider It Done! Plan Making Can Eliminate the Cognitive Effects of Unfulfilled Goals

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Abstract

Unfulfilled goals persist in the mind, as asserted by ample theory and evidence (e.g., the Zeigarnik effect). The standard assumption has been that such cognitive activation persists until the goal is fulfilled. However, we predicted that contributing to goal pursuit through plan making could satisfy the various cognitive processes that usually promote goal pursuit. In several studies, we activated unfulfilled goals and demonstrated persistent goal activation over time. Unfinished goals caused intrusive thoughts during an unrelated reading task (Studies 1 and 5B), high mental accessibility of goal-related words (Studies 2 and 3), and poor performance on an unrelated anagram task (Study 4). Allowing participants to formulate specific plans for their unfulfilled goals eliminated the various activation and interference effects. Reduction of the effects was mediated by the earnestness of participants' plans: Those who ultimately executed their plans were those who also exhibited no more intrusions (Study 4). Moreover, changes in goal-related emotions did not appear to be a necessary component of the observed cognitive effects (Studies 5A and 5B). Committing to a specific plan for a goal may therefore not only facilitate attainment of the goal but may also free cognitive resources for other pursuits. Once a plan is made, the drive to attain a goal is suspended--allowing goal-related cognitive activity to cease--and is resumed at the specified later time.

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... One potential explanation for the varying relations between PGI and PTSS may be that in some situations, extensive goal setting may narrow one's focus (Ordóñez, Schweitzer, Galinsky, & Bazerman, 2009). Researchers have emphasized the importance of distinguishing outcome-based future thoughts and process-based future thoughts (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Process-based thoughts, in which individuals reflect on and commit to a specific plan, reduced cognitive activity from unfinished tasks, increasing participants' goal achievement (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). ...
... Researchers have emphasized the importance of distinguishing outcome-based future thoughts and process-based future thoughts (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Process-based thoughts, in which individuals reflect on and commit to a specific plan, reduced cognitive activity from unfinished tasks, increasing participants' goal achievement (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). However, outcome-based thoughts, which are future-directed thoughts that enhance optimistic future expectations and outcomes, inhibited engaging in goal-oriented behaviors (Zhang, Fishbach, & Dhar, 2007). ...
... However, outcome-based thoughts, which are future-directed thoughts that enhance optimistic future expectations and outcomes, inhibited engaging in goal-oriented behaviors (Zhang, Fishbach, & Dhar, 2007). Seemingly consistent with the process-based thoughts proposed by Masicampo and Baumeister (2011), PGI theory states that people with well-developed PGI skills are more likely to capitalize on opportunities for growth by developing a specific plan and actively engaging in accomplishing the plan (Robitschek, 1999). However, it is possible that individuals with particularly strong cognitive skills of PGI (i.e., RFC and PL) but with poorly developed behavioral skills of PGI (i.e., UR and IB) may be engaging more in outcome-based thoughts, thereby leading to less behavioral engagement. ...
... For example, driving while on the phone has been shown to result in slower responses to traffic signals [125]. Other studies show that unfulfilled goals (like finishing a paper) interfere with tasks that require executive function [88,92]. Executive function includes working memory, reasoning, and problem solving, and can only pursue one goal at a time. ...
... Since executive function is in high demand during knowledge work, interleaving several long-term tasks (as studied in this chapter) might decrease overall productivity when mental processes remain focused on prior goals. However, by consciously formulating plans for unfulfilled goals, such problems may be avoided [92]. ...
... Such actions are indicative of formulating plans to return to the task at a later moment in time. This has been shown to alleviate the detrimental effects of unconsciously remaining focused on unfulfilled goals [92]. In addition, prior studies have shown that leaving behind visual cues reduces the amount of required time to resume a task [6], highlighting their importance as part of task switching. ...
Thesis
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Throughout history, the design of interactive computing systems has always been inhibited by technological limitations of the time. For a truly groundbreaking paradigm shift to occur (reshaping the very nature of human-computer interaction), a tremendous amount of research and engineering is required. Therefore, most computing systems instead build on top of an existing stack of contemporaneous technologies, inescapably adhering to their underlying interaction paradigms. When left unquestioned, such an incremental approach inadvertently shoehorns system design into preexisting notions of how computing systems work. Thus, it is likely that design decisions imposed by technological constraints of the past have needlessly been carried over to modern-day systems. With information technology now forming a major part of our daily lives and giving rise to new emerging design challenges, it is prudent to address these not in isolation, but by fundamentally reevaluating the current computing paradigm. To this end, activity-centric computing has been brought forward as an alternative computing paradigm, addressing the increasing strain put on modern-day computing systems. Activity-centric computing follows a top-down approach to design using the full context of human activity as the starting point of analysis. The focus no longer lies on individual technologies, but on how computing systems are used as mediators within the broader context of human intentionality, thus also taking into account the encompassing community, environment, and dependencies on other technologies. Users can aggregate resources, work, and collaborate on them within goal-oriented workspaces that are meaningful to the user, as opposed to having to adhere to data structures imposed by specific technologies. Such systems have been deployed successfully in a variety of different domains, including healthcare, experimental biology, and software engineering. However, several recurring open issues have been identified based on the deployment and evaluation of different activity-centric computing systems. Broadly speaking these impact the scalability and intelligibility of current research prototypes. In this dissertation, I postulate that such issues arise due to a lack of support for the full set of practices which make up activity management. Most notably, although task and interruption management are an integral part of personal information management, they have thus far been neglected in prior activity-centric computing systems. Advancing the research agenda of activity-centric computing, I (1) implement and evaluate an activity-centric desktop computing system, incorporating support for interruptions and long-term task management; (2) provide empirical data on the overhead of switching between activities when using contemporary desktop computing systems; and (3) implement a software architecture facilitating developers to aggregate resources handled by independent applications into one central activity manager.
... Due to the need for closure (see also Webster and Kruglanski 1994), the accessibility of thoughts related to the task is permanently enhanced such that the individual remains vigilant for opportunities to finish the task (Lewin 1939). These theoretical implications were confirmed by diary field research on the relationship between unfinished tasks and rumination Weigelt and Syrek 2017;Weigelt et al. 2018) as well as by experimental research by Masicampo and Baumeister (2011). The latter asked participants to describe two important tasks they needed to complete in the next few days. ...
... As outlined above, flow occurs when a person is fully absorbed-an experience whose emergence or stability would be disturbed by intrusive thoughts about an unfulfilled task. Furthermore, continuous cognitive effort is directed toward an unfinished task (Masicampo and Baumeister 2011;Lewin 1939), yet to experience flow in a new task one must be able to give his/her full attention to that task. The mind has limited resources for executive functions (James 1890). ...
... As our results are largely in line with Hypothesis 1b, they support our theoretical argument that consequences of unfinished tasks are incompatible with flow experience. This further supports empirical research (Lewin 1939;Masicampo and Baumeister 2011;Smallwood and Schooler 2006;Weigelt and Syrek 2017) showing that unfinished tasks bind cognitive resources, trigger intrusive thoughts about the unfulfilled goal and facilitate mind-wandering, whereas flow experience requires that one's whole attention is focused on the task at hand. We assume that unfinished tasks lead to intrusive thoughts, which militate against flow in subsequent tasks. ...
Article
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The beneficial potential of flow experience is highlighted by research demonstrating positive associations between flow and wellbeing. Flow has also been associated with stress—a relationship that has not received much attention in the context of work. Unfinished tasks have been identified as a crucial work-related stressor in recent occupational stress research. Extending previous research, we examine in two consecutive studies how unfinished tasks are related to flow and whether flow plays a mediational role between unfinished tasks and wellbeing. Study 1 adopted a cross-sectional design, with 93 employees taking part in an online survey assessing their work experiences during the previous two weeks. Study 2 employed a short-term diary design and 149 participants (85 employees and 64 students) responded to our survey at three points of measurement: after work/study, before going to bed, and in the next morning. Results from both studies provided evidence for a negative quadratic relationship between unfinished tasks and flow at work/study, with low to medium levels of unfinished tasks being unrelated to flow, while high levels of unfinished tasks were negatively associated with flow. The relationship of unfinished tasks at work/study and flow during an evening activity was negative. Both studies supported the postulated mediating role of flow in the relationship between unfinished tasks and wellbeing. Thus, finishing tasks during the day and in particular before leaving the workplace is a helpful condition to experiencing flow both at work and during non-work activities and to fostering wellbeing.
... We assume that low success expectancies concerning an unaccomplished action lead to higher impairments in the experience and behavior of focal actions, and in that case, the action should be perceived as less finished than when success expectations are high. Actually, there are compatible findings that heightening expectations leads to less interference: In an experiment, intrusive thoughts on unfinished tasks during reading a novel were reduced when participants had made plans for their unfinished tasks before starting to read (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011b). It seems that making a plan for an upcoming action before engaging in another task reduces interferences in the focal task, possibly because it makes the person more confident that they can manage the other task (i.e., having a higher success expectation). ...
... The more someone doubts that they can master a task, the more mental resources the task will take up while engaging in other activities. Nonetheless, we do not know yet if unaccomplished activities with a plan (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011b) or high success expectancy (our studies) are actually subjectively experienced as more finished compared to without a plan or with low success expectancy. ...
... For example, there is evidence that making a plan for a task before engaging in another action reduces its negative influence on the unrelated task (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011b), which can be seen as one possibility of heightening success expectations. One helpful way of planning that heightens success expectations could lie in proximal goal setting. ...
Article
Characteristics of concurring action alternatives can influence the experience and behavior in a focal action. In two scenario studies we investigated the role of success expectancies of an unaccomplished academic task as a relevant motivational characteristic to explain the experience and behavior during a focal leisure activity. Students imagined themselves in scenarios which were experimentally manipulated by varying the presence of a motivational conflict and the description of the concurring action. They anticipated what they would experience in these situations. Results indicate that students experience more impairments in situations of motivational conflict than when there is no conflict. Even more important, when success expectancies for the unaccomplished academic task were described as low, the anticipated impairments were higher than when expectations were described as high. Influencing expectations is discussed as one starting point for handling negative consequences of motivational conflicts due to academic tasks.
... We know already that this tension impairs the executive functions of individuals (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011a) and even their well-being (Syrek et al., 2017). What we also know is that by regulating their behavior successfully, participants in lab experiments may make this tension less detrimental for themselves (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011b). What we, however, know less well is (1) how this knowledge translates to employees dealing with lack of closure in real-life organizations and (2) what employees can concretely do in order not simply to survive this tension but, rather, to use it in such a way that will boost their task performance. ...
... For example, the social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1991) suggests that purposeful self-regulatory action is required from individuals to address unfulfilled tasks. Similarly, future-oriented cognitive strategies, such as planning, are necessary so that individuals reach closure (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011b). ...
... Schippers et al., 2013) by showing that exactly like team reflexivity, individual reflexivity can help employees learn, not only from prior task performance but even from a more ambiguous state, namely, lack of closure. These findings inform and extend theorizing about the role of self-regulation in the context of unfulfilled tasks (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011b) and do so among employees, outside the research lab. ...
Article
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Although unattained work goals and tasks are often viewed by management as an undesired state, the present paper proposes that daily lack of closure can sometimes boost rather than block job performance. Lack of closure is defined as an employee state or subjective feeling whereby the tasks, goals, or projects of a working day remain incomplete. This state is hypothesized to positively relate to job performance for high trait-level employee reflexivity and high day-level employee mindfulness and to negatively relate to job performance for low reflexivity and low mindfulness. To test expectations, a diary survey study was conducted among 209 employees of different sectors. Results supported both hypotheses but with a different temporal pattern for each moderator: On the one hand, previous-day lack of closure negatively related to day-level performance for low employee mindfulness and positively related to day-level performance for high employee mindfulness. On the other hand, day-level lack of closure negatively related to same-day performance for low employee reflexivity and positively related to same-day performance for high employee reflexivity. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed and practical recommendations are formulated about how employee reflexivity and mindfulness can be enhanced, for example, though workplace interventions.
... however, is a different behavior 0 which precedes (rather than follows) behavior 1. 1 Behavioral spillunder therefore refers to the impact of the intervention on this preceding behavior 0 (Figure 1). For example, in Masicampo and Baumeister (2011), all participants were told that they would need to undertake a brainstorming task that would require them to generate as many different examples of a given category as possible (behavior 1). The intervention consisted of providing participants with different instructions concerning behavior 1: in the unfulfilled goal group, they were told that they would need to list as many examples of sea creatures as they could; in the fulfilled goal group, they were given the same instructions about the sea creatures but were also asked to form a more precise plan of how they would accomplish the task (e.g., "When I get to the final task, I will write down the letters of the alphabet and will list sea creatures for each one, " Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011, p. 676); in the control condition, they were given broad instructions about having to undertake a category generation task without any reference to the specifics. ...
... This spillunder could be categorized as promoting because the motive to collect the rent drives both behaviors to work in the same direction. In another representative spillunder research that we previously described (Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011), however, the prospect of behavior 1 may impact behavior 0 through a different mechanism: expecting to generate names of sea creatures with vs. without a plan (behavior 1) impaired anagram solving (behavior 0) due to creating intrusive thoughts rather than due to strengthening or weakening a specific motive. This spillunder, therefore, can hardly be categorized as promoting, permitting, or purging, because an underlying motive linking behavior 0 and behavior 1 may not exist, or may be difficult to identify. ...
... Of the eight spillunder effects identified, three effects can be classified as extinguishing, and five as enhancing spillunders. As it can be seen from the table, the spillunder effects are spread across many different behavioral domains, including mental performancee.g., anagram solving (Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011), reading comprehension (Kopp et al., 2015), and word recall (Cody et al., 2015); health-e.g., food consumption (Polivy et al., 1994;Urbszat et al., 2002) and meditation (Morsella et al., 2010); morality-e.g., displaying racial prejudice (Cascio and Plant, 2015); and leisure-e.g., music choice (Tamir and Ford, 2012). This variability indicates that spillunders could be relevant to many different policy domains if they are shown to be an integral component of day to day activities. ...
Article
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Behavioral spillovers refer to the influence that a given intervention targeting behavior 1 exerts on a subsequent, non-targeted, behavior 2, which may or may not be in the same domain (health, finance, etc.) as one another. So, a nudge to exercise more, for example, could lead people to eat more or less, or possibly even to give more or less to charity depending on the nature of the spillover. But what if spillovers also operate backward; that is, if the expectation of behavior 1 influences behavior 0 that precedes it? For example, a person may form an intention to exercise prompted by a policy intervention but overeat at present as a result. We define such a possibility as a “spillunder.” In the proposed article, we critically review the few papers that we have identified through a narrative literature review which have demonstrated spillunder effects to date, and we propose a conceptual framework. Based on evidence about the human mind and behavior from psychology and economics, we argue that spillunder effects may be more common than the limited empirical findings suggest. We propose six representative mechanisms through which the prospect of behavior 1 may impact behavior 0: executive functions, moral licensing and moral cleansing, emotion regulation, energization, construal level, and savoring and dread. We further discuss the policy and practical implications of spillunder effects and examine methodological issues that need to be considered when empirically testing these effects. As with our earlier paper on spillovers, we aim to motivate other behavioral scientists to research behavioral spillunders more systematically and extensively, and to prompt decision makers to consider these effects when designing behavioral interventions.
... Participants were 72 students (49 female) across several courses at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. We determined the size of our participants' sample according to previous PM studies investigating mind wandering with total sample sizes from N = 55 (Steindorf & Rummel, 2017), N = 68 and N = 61 (Scullin et al., 2018), N = 73 (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011) up to N = 104 participants. To achieve a comparable statistical power, we followed previous studies with comparable participant sample sizes Scullin et al., 2018;Steindorf & Rummel, 2017) for a comparison between two groups (see below for further details). ...
... Finally, the participants completed two working 1 The adopted size of our participant sample would be consistent with an a priori power analysis with G*Power (Faul et al., 2007) for ANCOVAs assuming a medium to large effect size (f = .34). This effect sized was based on collapsing the individual effect sizes observed in comparable previous studies, for example, Masicampo and Baumeister (2011), f = .36; Steindorf and Rummel (2017), f = .46; ...
... Based on our own findings, a power of .82 is expected when calculating an ANCOVA (see G*Power, Faul et al., 2007), which is comparable to the expected power in other studies applying similar designs of inducing mind wandering with unfinished versus finished PM task-related manipulations. For example, the calculated power in the cited studies ranges from .52 to .90 (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011;Rummel et al., 2017;Scullin et al., 2018;Steindorf & Rummel, 2017). In more detail, a power of values between .63 and .95 was expected in the study by Rummel et al. (2017, Experiments 1-3), a power of .67 in the study by Steindorf and Rummel (2017), and a power of .80 in Scullin et al. (2018, Experiment 2). ...
Article
Many prior theories have tried to explain the relationship between attentional processes and mind wandering. The resource-demand matching view argues that a mismatch between task demands and resources led to more mind wandering. This study aims to test this view against competing models by inducing mind wandering through increasing the level of demands via adding a prospective memory task to cognitively demanding tasks like reading. We hypothesized that participants with a second task still in mind (unfinished group) engage more in task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs) and show less text comprehension compared to participants who think a second task is finished (finished group). Seventy-two participants had to study 24 items of a to-do list for a recall test. After a first cued recall of ten items, participants were either told that a second task was finished or that the recall was interrupted and continued later. All participants then started reading an easy or difficult version of the same unfamiliar hypertext, while being thought probed. Text comprehension measures followed. As expected, participants in the unfinished group showed significantly more TUTs than participants in the finished group when reading difficult texts, but, contrary to our assumptions, did not show better text comprehension measures when reading difficult text. Nevertheless, participants compensate for the influence of the second task by reading longer, which in turn has a positive effect on their reading knowledge. These findings support the resource-demand-matching model and thus strengthen assumptions about the processing of attention during reading.
... These plans take the form of "if/when X, do Y" and have been called implementation intentions by Gollwitzer (1999), who explained them in terms of the conscious mind turning over control of behavior to externally cued unconscious processes. Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) concluded that the unconscious mainly needs the conscious mind to formulate such plans, after which the unconscious can remain alert for a particular cue or circumstance and then initiate the preplanned action. They showed that this explains the Zeigarnik (1938) effect, which is that unfinished tasks evoke nagging reminders popping into the conscious mind. ...
... The other camp holds that the unconscious is disturbed by the unfinished task and therefore reminds and pressures the conscious mind to resume and finish the job. Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) rejected both of those theories by showing that the intrusive thoughts stopped as soon as the person made a specific plan (implementation intention) to finish the job on some particular occasion. No objective progress had been made toward the goals, but the unconscious is apparently content to watch for the trigger circumstance X in order to resume the goal pursuit. ...
Article
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Thinking about the future highlights the constructive nature of consciousness, as opposed to merely representing what is there — because the future is not yet available to be seen. We elaborate this point to emphasize how consciousness deals in alternative possibilities, and indeed preconscious interpretation confers meaning by recognizing these alternatives. Crucially, the goal of prospection is less to predict what is sure to happen than to prepare for action in situations defined by sets of incompatible alternative options, each of which might or might not come true. We review multiple lines of evidence indicating that people conceptualize the future as just such a matrix of maybe. Thus, people think of the future as highly changeable. Most prospective thinking involves planning, which is designed to bring about one outcome rather than alternatives. Optimism may often reflect an initial, automatic response that is soon followed by conscious appreciation of obstacles and other factors that can produce less desired, alternative outcomes. People moralize the future more than the past, presumably to promote the more desirable outcomes. Anticipated emotion helps people evaluate future possible outcomes. People specifically anticipate the matrix of maybe and sometimes seek to preserve multiplicity of options. We integrate these patterns of findings with a pragmatic theory of prospection: Thinking of the future as a multi-maybe matrix is useful for guiding action.
... Creative solutions often entail overcoming an impasse when the more straightforward approaches to a problem have failed (Davidson, 1995;Schooler & Melcher, 1995). Such impasses can increase the accessibility of a problem (Zeigarnik, 1938), which in turn can lead to increased mind wandering (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Accordingly, mind wandering may foster the revisiting of creative problems in a variety of contexts, which may enable their consideration from alternative vantages and thereby enhance the likelihood of overcoming the impasse (Ritter et al., 2012). ...
... Many creative solutions require overcoming some form of impasse, and it is precisely these problems that individuals are likely to set aside in hopes that a solution will come. Furthermore, encountering impasses is known to increase the accessibility of problems (Zeigarnik, 1938) and to increase mind wandering about that problem (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). This increased accessibility may serve a functional role by enabling ideas to spring to mind in novel or otherwise opportune contexts, offering unique solutions that resolve the impasse (Seifert, Meyer, Davidson, Patalano, & Yaniv, 1994). ...
Article
How often are creative ideas generated during episodes of mind wandering, and do they differ from those generated while on task? In two studies (N = 98, N = 87), professional writers and physicists reported on their most creative idea of the day, what they were thinking about and doing when it occurred, whether the idea felt like an “aha” moment, and the quality of the idea. Participants reported that one fifth of their most significant ideas of the day were formed during spontaneous task-independent mind wandering—operationalized here as (a) engaging in an activity other than working and (b) thinking about something unrelated to the generated idea. There were no differences between ratings of the creativity or importance of ideas that occurred during mind wandering and those that occurred on task. However, ideas that occurred during mind wandering were more likely to be associated with overcoming an impasse on a problem and to be experienced as “aha” moments, compared with ideas generated while on task.
... These plans take the form of "if/when X, do Y" and have been called implementation intentions by Gollwitzer (1999), who explained them in terms of the conscious mind turning over control of behavior to externally cued unconscious processes. Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) concluded that the unconscious mainly needs the conscious mind to formulate such plans, after which the unconscious can remain alert for a particular cue or circumstance and then initiate the preplanned action. They showed that this explains the Zeigarnik (1938) effect, which is that unfinished tasks evoke nagging reminders popping into the conscious mind. ...
... The other camp holds that the unconscious is disturbed by the unfinished task and therefore reminds and pressures the conscious mind to resume and finish the job. Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) rejected both of those theories by showing that the intrusive thoughts stopped as soon as the person made a specific plan (implementation intention) to finish the job on some particular occasion. No objective progress had been made toward the goals, but the unconscious is apparently content to watch for the trigger circumstance X in order to resume the goal pursuit. ...
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Thinking about the future highlights the constructive nature of consciousness, as opposed to merely representing what is there — because the future is not yet available to be seen. We elaborate this point to emphasize how consciousness deals in alternative possibilities, and indeed preconscious interpretation confers meaning by recognizing these alternatives. Crucially, the goal of prospection is less to predict what is sure to happen than to prepare for action in situations defined by sets of incompatible alternative options, each of which might or might not come true. We review multiple lines of evidence indicating that people conceptualize the future as just such a matrix of maybe. Thus, people think of the future as highly changeable. Most prospective thinking involves planning, which is designed to bring about one outcome rather than alternatives. Optimism may often reflect an initial, automatic response that is soon followed by conscious appreciation of obstacles and other factors that can produce less desired, alternative outcomes. People moralize the future more than the past, presumably to promote the more desirable outcomes. Anticipated emotion helps people evaluate future possible outcomes. People specifically anticipate the matrix of maybe and sometimes seek to preserve multiplicity of options. We integrate these patterns of findings with a pragmatic theory of prospection: Thinking of the future as a multi-maybe matrix is useful for guiding action.
... For example, Moskowitz (2002) has demonstrated that individuals in a state of goal incompleteness direct their attention more than individuals in a state of goal completeness towards goal-relevant items in a nonrelated task. Similarly, Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) showed that active, unfinished goals increased intrusive thoughts about the goal (Study 1), heightened the mental accessibility of goal-related words (Studies 2 & 3), and decreased performance in an unrelated, cognitively demanding task (Study 4). Working towards the completion of the goal by formulating a specific plan decreased these cognitive effects of unfulfilled goals (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). ...
... Similarly, Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) showed that active, unfinished goals increased intrusive thoughts about the goal (Study 1), heightened the mental accessibility of goal-related words (Studies 2 & 3), and decreased performance in an unrelated, cognitively demanding task (Study 4). Working towards the completion of the goal by formulating a specific plan decreased these cognitive effects of unfulfilled goals (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Bargh, Green, and Fitzsimons (2008) showed that goals (e.g., evaluate a job applicant) spill over to goalrelated content that was not originally the target of the goal (e.g., impression formation of incidental bystanders), but only if the goal is still incomplete. ...
... During moments in which ruminations in our head prevail, we should try to identify the 'sidetrack' we are taking and attempt to steer our thoughts 'back on track'. Moreover, Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) claim that our ruminations about our to-do's (or so-called 'unfulfilled goals') can cause intrusive thoughts while we are completing other tasks and lead to poor performance on those other tasks. However, this performance increases significantly when we are allowed to make and jot down concrete plans to finish the unfulfilled goals. ...
... However, this performance increases significantly when we are allowed to make and jot down concrete plans to finish the unfulfilled goals. Therefore, Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) suggest, maintaining to-do lists and writing tasks down with some idea about how and when they might be completed can make us more effective and free us from anxiety. ...
Article
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Our rising life expectancy mandates a re-design of our life span and redefines ‘midlife’ both technically and conceptually. Lagging behind other life stages in its scientific study, midlife is often connoted with a ‘crisis’ of sorts. Yet historically, midlife represented an apex in life; moreover, conclusive ‘crisis’ evidence has yet to emerge. Some manage to thrive in midlife by maintaining an attitude rooted in The Good Life, a concept tracing back to Aristotelian ethics. Positive psychology, the science of what makes life worth living, has studied The Good Life in modern times and contributed to understanding midlife in well-being terms. Together with neuroscience, positive psychology can help dispel myths regarding midlife, reframing it from the onset of decline into a creative transition for our ‘second act’ based on an enhanced sense of authorship. This self-creation process involves three key well-being themes: revision, prospection, and individuation. Reviewing these themes and ‘layering’ them with different well-being perspectives relevant to midlife, we may achieve meaningful positive psychological constructs and activities (and eventually, interventions) in three areas: positive narrative identity, serious play, and self-regulation. Of these, serious play, which unlocks the tacit knowledge our bodies disseminate in a state of play, seems especially key to enhancing authorship. One serious play application, LEGO Serious Play, which aims to build identities trough metaphors, seems especially promising for enhancing well-being at midlife in positive psychology workshops.
... "Unfinished tasks refer to tasks that the employee aimed to finish (or make certain progress), but which were left undone (or left in an unsatisfactory state) when the employee stopped working" (Syrek, Weigelt, Peifer, & Antoni, 2017, p. 227). Unfinished tasks per se might trigger repetitive or intrusive thoughts about the incomplete task (Baumeister & Bushman, 2010) and might remain highly accessible in memory (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011) even when employees leave the workplace. Thus, unfinished tasks might maintain feelings of tension or negative activation during off-job time and elicit work-related rumination (Syrek et al., 2017). ...
... Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015). This process most likely occurs when the job demands either keep the employee uncertain about the content of his or her tasks or relevant goals (i.e., role ambiguity), or the uncompleted task perpetuates attention and vigilance for opportunities to complete it (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Therefore, on days when an individual experiences more frequent PCC, both (a) negative associations between daily job stressors (e.g., unfinished tasks) or role ambiguity and daily psychological detachment and (b) positive associations between job stressors and daily strain should be enhanced. ...
Article
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Psychological detachment has been proposed to be a mediator of the relations between an individual’s responses to stressful work‐related experiences and mid‐ and long‐term health. However, the number of studies that have specifically examined the role that personal characteristics play in these associations is considerably small. One personal characteristic that might specifically interfere with psychological detachment is perfectionism, which has been considered an important vulnerability factor for the development of psychological disorders. Hence, the goal of this registered report was to extend research on psychological detachment by introducing trait and state perfectionism as moderators of the aforementioned relations. We conducted an experience sampling study with three measurement occasions per day over the course of 3 working weeks (N = 158 employees; Mage = 41.6; 67% women). Multilevel path models showed that perfectionistic concerns consistently determined strain responses at between‐ and within‐levels of analyses even after the effects of job demands (i.e., unfinished tasks and role ambiguity) and detachment were accounted for. However, we found no evidence for the proposed moderation effects. The theoretical implications for the understanding of the processes proposed in the stressor‐detachment model are discussed.
... Today, there is a different explanation for the Zeigarnik effect, which we have several recent experiments by Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) to thank for. Maiscampo is a post-doctoral employee of the Florida State University who often works with Baumeister. ...
... Rather, the subconscious mind urges the conscious mind to make a plan with details, a location, and circumstances. As soon as the plan was formed, the subconscious mind no longer had to bother the conscious mind by urging it, allowing one to relax (Masicampo and Baumeister 2011). ...
Chapter
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Why does one organization remain successful while others are falling apart or just disappear? Why is one person successful over and over again, while no one expected him or her to be? The secret of winning persons and teams seems to lie in performance indicators and personality traits, on which—strangely enough—many organizations just do not select their employees.
... This stress can be alleviated when there is proper planning (Kodden, 2020). Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) observe in their experiments that planning where, when, and under what circumstances the tasks will be performed helps to keep the focus on the main task, even if other tasks are being performed in parallel. After appropriate planning, the subconscious stops disturbing the mind, allowing the person to relax (Kodden, 2020;Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011). ...
... Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) observe in their experiments that planning where, when, and under what circumstances the tasks will be performed helps to keep the focus on the main task, even if other tasks are being performed in parallel. After appropriate planning, the subconscious stops disturbing the mind, allowing the person to relax (Kodden, 2020;Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011). Thus, the Zeigarnik effect may or may not contribute to performance, depending on how it is managed. ...
Article
This study measures job motivation, satisfaction, and burnout amongst foodservice employees, as well as the menu complexity in foodservice establishments. It verifies the relationship between these factors and food safety practices. We visited 20 foodservice establishments and interviewed 202 foodservice employees. Job motivation, satisfaction, and burnout were assessed using validated questionnaires. Menu complexity was evaluated by considering the number of meals prepared in different courses. Data relating to food safety violations were obtained using a food safety checklist. Our findings show that foodservice employees exhibit high levels of job motivation, job satisfaction, and personal burnout. In restaurants with more complex menus, instances of burnout as well as food safety violations are higher, and these have a negative impact on foodservice employees’ job motivation. Job satisfaction is positively affected by job motivation and negatively affected by burnout. Cognitive aspects of food safety, practical implications, and limitations of this study are discussed.
... Fourth, physiological as well as psychological needs can transform into motives that drive behavior. Health threats are associated with stressful events (Sapolsky, 2004) and depleted physical and mental energy levels (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008;Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Therefore, we include motives to anticipate and act to avoid depletion of personal energy resources (Halbesleben et al., 2014;Hobfoll, 1989) in the processing of WFC (ten Brummelhuis & Bakker, 2012). ...
... In these latter cases the mediating mechanism is forming a plan (e.g., Hirschi et al., 2019) carried forward from the episode in L-T memory as an output, "I'll discuss exchanging responsibilities with him tomorrow." Such planning acts to psychologically mitigate or eliminate the negative affect from having an unfulfilled goal (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). However, utilizing such planning does create an "open" WFC episode until the planned behavior is executed. ...
Article
To clarify how work and non-work role conflicts are processed and produce psychological change, we propose an integrative theory of work-family conflict (WFC) episode processing. We clarify ambiguities around the meaning of WFC, overcome questionable research assumptions, make testable counter-normative predictions, reconcile “levels” and “episodes” WFC conceptions, and explain how WFC can even have a net positive effect for the person. In the model, a trigger event causes a perceived WF role incompatibility and a negative change in core affect, prompting either a scripted response or controlled sensemaking. In the latter, cognitive appraisals and secondary affect ensue, causing a choice of a coping/resolution response. Responses are reinforced/punished, and possibly, consciously evaluated. Episodes end with the potential storage of outputs in long-term memory. State inputs to an episode condition processing and memory storage. Stored episode outputs can thereafter become inputs to future episodes and/or cause longer-term change in role performance, satisfaction, and well-being. After describing these processes, we suggest new directions for WFC research and practice.
... Research from areas of cognitive psychology (Lee, 2014), cognitive neuroscience (Dreisbach et al., 2004) and social psychology (Atkinson and Cartwright, 1964;Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011) have identified certain pre-conditions that can lead healthy people to rigidly pursue their initial goal even if it would seem maladaptive. One main explanation for this phenomenon is that any interference with the ongoing activity (Dehais et al., 2012a(Dehais et al., , 2012b can induce a feeling of loss that leads to increased physiological arousal and prefrontal activity (Yechiam, and Hochman, 2013), which serves to focus attention on task achievement. ...
Article
Everyday complex and stressful real-life situations can overwhelm the human brain to an extent that the person is no longer able to accurately evaluate the situation and persists in irrational actions or strategies. Safety analyses reveal that such perseverative behavior is exhibited by operators in many critical domains, which can lead to potentially fatal incidents. There are neuroimaging evidences of changes in healthy brain functioning when engaged in non-adaptive behaviors that are akin to executive deficits such as perseveration shown in patients with brain lesion. In this respect, we suggest a cognitive continuum whereby stressors can render the healthy brain temporarily impaired. We show that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is a key structure for executive and attentional control whereby any transient (stressors, neurostimulation) or permanent (lesion) impairment compromises adaptive behavior. Using this neuropsychological insight, we discuss solutions involving training, neurostimulation, and the design of cognitive countermeasures for mitigating perseveration.
... Third, problem-solving pondering reduces uncertainty about how to deal with the task, satisfying individuals' need for cognitive closure. For example, although thinking about work stimulates individuals to keep arousal at a high level (Brosschot, Gerin, & Thayer, 2006), the development of a specific plan can reduce tension and allow the mind to be detached, so that the individual can recover during restful time (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Consistent with those arguments, Syrek, Weigelt, Peifer, and Antoni (2017) also found that problem-solving pondering was beneficial for sleep and recovery. ...
Article
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Difficult doctor‒patient relationships are a common reality in many health-care organizations. Its harmful impacts have been mainly discussed from the perspectives of patients. However, understanding of its negative effects on physicians is limited. Drawing on the job demands-resources model and the conservation of resources theory, we hypothesize that difficult relationships with patients negatively predict physicians’ work engagement, mediated by physicians’ personal resources (e.g. prosocial motivation and problem-solving pondering). A sample of 588 physicians from 24 Chinese hospitals completed questionnaires in a two-wave survey. Structural equation modeling and bootstrap estimation results provide support for the hypothesized relationships. Difficult doctor‒patient relationships have a direct and negative effect on physicians’ work engagement. Specifically, there is a sequence in which the difficult doctor‒patient relationship first impedes physicians’ prosocial motivation, leading to decreased problem-solving pondering, which subsequently impairs physicians’ work engagement. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
... A study using a reading comprehension task showed a medium increase in task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs), after asking participants to make a list of short-term goals compared to a control task (Kopp, D'Mello, & Mills, 2015). However, other studies (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011;Stawarczyk, Majerus, Maj, Van der Linden, & D'Argembeau, 2011) have found no evidence for the impact of current concerns in overall mind-wandering, which may be due to methodological factors (e.g., goals are still salient in the control condition, Kopp et al., 2015). Thus, the impact of current concern activation on overall mind-wandering requires further research to determine if this can be a useful tool to increase the overall number of spontaneous thoughts elicited in the lab, and allow for a more thorough analysis of this phenomenon. ...
Article
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In the past 15 years, the study of spontaneous thoughts (i.e., thoughts coming to mind without intention and effort) has received increased attention. Spontaneous future thoughts (SFTs) are particularly important (e.g., in planning), yet difficult to study with regard to age differences. Two main problems arise: (1) lab tasks including word-cues induce more past than future thoughts; (2) younger adults report more spontaneous thoughts than older adults. To improve the elicitation of SFTs, we developed a future-oriented goal-related priming procedure and analyzed the extension of the goal-related priming effect in SFTs to older adults, to examine whether age-related changes in personal goals compromise the elicitation of SFTs. We also controlled for methodological factors that could influence age groups differently (including demand, retrospection, meta-awareness and instruction bias). Twenty-seven younger and 27 older adults performed a low-demand vigilance task including word-cues and were periodically stopped to describe their thoughts. The vigilance task was divided into two parts and, between them, participants performed a future-oriented goal-related priming task. An additional group of 27 younger participants performed the same procedure with a control task based on word counting. We found a significant increase in SFTs after priming in both age groups, but not in the control group, indicating that the priming manipulation was effective. This result suggests that age-related changes in personal goals do not disrupt the relation between personal goals and SFT frequency. The similar pattern of overall spontaneous thought in both age groups is also discussed considering methodological factors.
... The expectation is grounded in research which demonstrates that asking participants to commit to plans that specify how and when a goal should be achieved, serves to satisfy the cognitive processes required for continued goal pursuit, and subsequently reduces the continued search for ways to achieve a goal (Masicampo and Baumeister 2011). We speculate that disengagement occurs because planning has been shown to draw attention to the difficulty of achieving a goal (Dalton and Spiller 2012). ...
Conference Paper
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Four experiments investigate the effect of choosing among simultaneously (versus sequentially) presented options. Findings suggest that people are more likely to choose the normatively best option when they view the options simultaneously. Mediation analysis reveals that greater deliberation, when considering options simultaneously, may be a possible mechanism for the phenomenon.
... These results lend further support to the idea that cues related to personal goals and concerns can trigger mind-wandering in a habitual stimulus-response-like fashion. Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) provided further evidence that it is specifically unresolved goals and concerns that trigger habitual mind wandering. They asked participants to write about personal goals in various states of completion. ...
Chapter
We spend much of our time mind wandering, that is, engaged in stimulus- or task-unrelated thoughts. Is mind wandering a habit? To answer this question, we must first acknowledge that mind wandering is a heterogeneous concept encompassing various different types of thought. We then explore in which ways mind wandering does and doesn’t resemble a habit. Based on the definition of habits as stimulus–response relationships that unfold automatically, we first discuss to what extent mind wandering can be characterized in terms of a stimulus–response relationship, where certain conditions trigger our thoughts to wander off. We then discuss to what extent mind wandering fulfils four characteristics of automaticity; mental efficiency, lack of awareness, lack of conscious intent, and lack of control. As we will see, some aspects or types of mind wandering fulfil these criteria, whereas others don’t. Thus, given the heterogeneity of mind wandering, it is most appropriate to say that there are more and less habitual types of mind wandering, as well as more or less habitual patterns of thought. We end by discussing ways in which habitual patterns of mind wandering may be changed to foster more flexible and productive types of mind wandering.
... Accordingly, some studies show that when users are aware about incomplete tasks they need to return to at a later point in time (unfulfilled goals), task performance is reduced when working on a task that requires executive function [Marien et al. 2012;Masicampo and Baumeister 2011b]. However, such negative effects can be overcome entirely by consciously formulating plans for the unfulfilled goals [Masicampo and Baumeister 2011a]. ...
Preprint
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Most window management systems support multitasking by allowing users to open, resize, position, and switch between application windows. Although multitasking has become a way of life for most knowledge workers, our current understanding of how users use window management features to switch between multiple tasks---which may comprise multiple application windows---is limited. In this paper, we present a study providing an in-depth analysis of how task switching is supported in Windows 7. As part of analysis, we developed an interface-agnostic classification of common task switching operations supported by window managers which can be used to quantify the time spent on each constituting action. Our study shows that task switching is a time intensive activity and highlights the dominant actions that contribute to task switch time. Furthermore, our classification highlights the specific operations that are optimized by more recent and experimental window managers and allows identifying opportunities for design that could further reduce the overhead of switching between tasks.
... A third consequence of goals without a specific endpoint is that they are perceived as perpetually unfulfilled, and unfulfilled goals consume valuable attentional and working memory resources, which can interfere with performance in unrelated tasks that require executive function, such as anagram puzzles or dieting (Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011b). However, these detrimental interference effects disappear when people formulate specific plans for their unfulfilled goals (Masicampo and Baumeister, 2011a). This indicates that focusing on subordinate goals as well can alleviate the drawbacks of superordinate goals and facilitate goal pursuit in various ways Latham, 1990, 2002;Bandura, 1997;Gollwitzer and Brandstätter, 1997). ...
Article
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Goal-setting theory states that challenging, specific, and concrete goals (i.e., subordinate goals) are powerful motivators and boost performance in goal pursuit more than vague or abstract goals (i.e., superordinate goals). Goal-setting theory predominantly focuses on single, short-term goals and less on broad, long-term challenges. This review article extends goal-setting theory and argues that superordinate goals also fulfill a crucial role in motivating behavior, particularly when addressing broad, long-term challenges. The purpose of this article is to shed light on the benefits of superordinate goals, which have received less attention in research, and to show theoretically that people pursue long-term goals more successfully when they focus on subordinate as well as superordinate goals than when they focus on either subordinate or superordinate goals alone.
... Often people are intending to attain multiple goals at one time (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011a, 2011b. In such a situation, these multiple goals are likely to compete for limited regulatory resources (Marien, Custers, Hassin, & Aarts, 2012;Shah & Kruglanski, 2002). ...
... Some studies have manipulated the salience of current concerns and shown an impact on the type and amount of mind-wandering that people experience. Priming people to think about their unfulfilled, everyday goals leads to increased reporting of TUT experiences (Kopp, D'Mello, & Mills, 2015;Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011;. Likewise, the priming of personal, performancerelated concerns increases the amount of TRI younger (Jordano & Touron, 2017b) and older adults (Jordano & Touron, 2017a; see Fig. 2) report. ...
Article
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Metacognitive monitoring refers to how people evaluate their cognitive performance. An extensive literature examines how accurately individuals engage in monitoring. The question of how often individuals engage in metacognitive monitoring has been largely neglected, although one might expect situational, group, and individual variability in monitoring frequency. We argue that this is a critical omission, given that the frequency of metacognitive monitoring might have important implications for monitoring accuracy and task performance. Within this review, we highlight findings from three literatures, that each provide insight into how often individuals engage in monitoring. To clarify the important links and potential overlaps between these separate bodies of research, we begin by summarizing the metacognitive monitoring literature, including age-related patterns in monitoring accuracy. We then connect these questions regarding spontaneous monitoring, including age-related patterns in spontaneous monitoring, to targeted reviews of the self-regulated learning, think-aloud protocol, and mind-wandering literatures. We discuss situational and dispositional factors believed to influence monitoring accuracy, and propose that the same factors could potentially influence the frequency of spontaneous monitoring. Additionally, we propose that age-related increases in spontaneous monitoring (as suggested by age-related increases in TRI) may contribute to older adults’ intact monitoring abilities. It is our hope that this review will encourage increased attention and research on the topic of spontaneous monitoring.
... Additionally, formulating an implementation intention activates the mental representation of a situation and can therefore make it recurrently accessible in memory (Gollwitzer, 1999). Further, several studies have shown that making implementation plans does not induce ego depletion (Webb & Sheeran, 2003) and may even increase people's self-regulatory resources (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). In the high inhibitory control condition, we asked participants to plan an aversive activity, for which they presumably had to inhibit their own intrinsic preference (see Powers, Koestner, & Topciu, 2005). ...
Article
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Objectives: People can use inhibitory control to temporarily inhibit their personal preferences to achieve their long-term goals. According to the ego fixation model (Koole et al., 2014), ruminators have difficulties relaxing inhibitory control, leading them to continue inhibiting their personal needs, even when this is no longer required by the situation. Inhibitory control may thus disrupt healthy appetite regulation among ruminators. Methods: Among 324 Dutch undergraduate students (218 women; Mage = 21.5), different inhibitory control states were manipulated by varying whether or not participants exerted inhibitory control (Study 1) or priming high versus low inhibitory control (Study 2). All participants then performed a food-tasting task. Healthy appetite regulation was defined as a positive correlation between level of food deprivation and preference for high-calorie foods. Results: For taste ratings, the interaction between inhibitory control and rumination was significant in each study: Inhibitory control disrupted healthy appetite regulation in taste preferences among ruminators, but not among non-ruminators. For eating behavior, the same interaction effect was significant when the two studies were combined. Conclusions: Inhibitory control disrupts healthy appetite regulation among ruminators. These findings suggest the need for caution in interventions that rely on inhibitory control, especially among samples with compulsive thought tendencies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Creativity heavily relies on these processes and as a consequence it is likely to be negatively affected. Planning how to address unfulfilled goals reduces the intrusiveness of goal-centered thoughts, which frees cognitive resources that are necessary for creative thinking and sustained progress toward goals (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Decades of research provide rich knowledge about the nature of creative potential (e.g., personality, motivation, and cognitive abilities predicting creativity) and creative products. However, the process between generating creative ideas and actualizing these ideas in creative products is less well understood. In this chapter, we argue that the success of transforming creative ideas into accomplishments substantially depends on effective self-regulation processes. We adapt and extend personality and social psychological research on self-regulation and define two broad groups of self-regulation processes in creativity: (1) revising and restrategizing (including regulating process expectations, adjusting approach, and managing ambitious goals/embracing risk); and (2) sustaining and maintaining effort (including planning and organization strategies, persistence in the face of obstacles, and managing emotions). We conclude the chapter by discussing future directions in the study of self-regulation in the creative process.
... According to the current concerns hypothesis (Klinger, 1978(Klinger, , 1999, personally relevant information, such as unfulfilled goals, is the source of much of spontaneous cognition. Indeed, when participants are asked to focus on their personal concerns or needs before engaging in a task, rates of mind wandering increase (Klinger, 2013;Kopp, D'Mello, & Mills, 2015a;Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011;Rummel & Nied, 2017;Stawarczyk, Majerus, & D'Argembeau, 2013b;Stawarczyk et al., 2011), suggesting that this type of mind wandering might to a large extent be driven by the importance of these current concerns rather than spontaneous associations elicited by the environment. This does not imply that prospective mind wandering is solely driven by internal concerns because a semantically rich environment might also provide cues that align with an individual's active goals or concerns, triggering prospective thoughts (Klinger, 2013;McDaniel, Einstein, Guynn, & Breneiser, 2004;Stawarczyk et al., 2011). ...
Article
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What do we think about when we mind wander and where do these thoughts come from? We tested the idea that semantically rich stimuli yield patterns of mind wandering that are closely coupled with the stimuli compared to being more internally triggered. We analyzed the content of 949 self-reported zone outs (1218 thoughts) and 519 of their triggers from 88 participants who read an instructional text and watched a film for 20 min each. We found that mind wandering associated with memory retrieval was more frequent than prospection and introspection across both stimuli. Over 70% of autobiographical and semantic memory retrievals were triggered by the content of the stimuli, compared to around 30% for prospective and introspective thoughts. Further, latent semantic analysis revealed that semantic and unspecific memories were more “semantically” similar to their triggers than prospective and introspective thoughts, suggesting that they arise from spontaneous associations with the stimulus. These findings suggest a re-evaluation of how internal concerns and the external world give rise to mind wandering and emphasize the importance of studying mind wandering in semantically rich contexts akin to much of the real world.
... The Zeigarnik Effect (Lewin, 1939;Zeigarnik, 1938) assumes that leaving a task unfinished leads to a continuous cognitive effort as well as to cognitive intrusions about the unfulfilled goal. For example, a study by Masicampo and Baumeister (2011) could empirically show that unfinished tasks result in intrusive taskrelated thoughts in a subsequent task. Such intrusions can be understood as internally initiated interruptions (compare Brixey et al., 2007), which should hinder flow experience. ...
Article
Multitasking behaviour is a prevalent coping strategy to deal with stressful work-demands. There is evidence from laboratory studies that multitasking behaviour decreases performance quality and shows an inverted u-shaped relationship with performance quantity. Based on the Brixey Model of Interruption and on assumptions of the Zeigarnik Effect, we postulate that reduced flow experience mediates negative effects of multitasking behaviour on performance. To investigate this assumption, we conducted a field study (Experience Sampling Method, 60 participants, 494 points of measurements). Using multilevel analysis, we found evidence for the postulated negative linear relationship between multitasking behaviour and flow. Flow had positive effects on performance. Also as postulated, we found a negative indirect effect of multitasking behaviour via flow on performance. However, the direct effect of multitasking behaviour on performance was positive. Our study provides the first evidence that flow transmits negative effects of multitasking behaviour on performance. At the same time, and confirming earlier research, there seem to be other mechanisms (possibly increased arousal) transmitting positive effects of multitasking behaviour on performance.
... The process of manually creating task lists can be beneficial (e.g., to reduce intrusive thoughts connected to unfinished goals [45]), but it is also burdensome and may even be ineffective if disconnected from how the task will be performed [25]. Actionable statements mined from user data such as electronic mail and instant messages [9,16,50] can be added to task lists. ...
Conference Paper
People can record their pending tasks using to-do lists, digital assistants, and other task management software. In doing so, users of these systems face at least two challenges: (1) they must manually mark their tasks as complete, and (2) when systems proactively remind them about their pending tasks, say, via interruptive notifications, they lack information on task completion status. As a result, people may not realize the full benefits of to-do lists (since these lists can contain both completed and pending tasks) and they may be reminded about tasks they have already done (wasting time and causing frustration). In this paper, we present methods to automatically detect task completion. These inferences can be used to deprecate completed tasks and/or suppress notifications for these tasks (or for other purposes, e.g., task prioritization). Using log data from a popular digital assistant, we analyze temporal dynamics in the completion of tasks and train machine-learned models to detect completion with accuracy exceeding 80% using a variety of features (time elapsed since task creation, task content, email, notifications, user history). The findings have implications for the design of intelligent systems to help people manage their tasks.
... Second, uncompleted goals remain activated until resolved, causing a burden on working memory and anxiety. When resolved, interest in goal-related information returns to baseline as demonstrated experimentally [43][44][45] and by fMRI studies. 21 ...
Article
The psychology of motivation can help us understand the impact of electronic health records (EHRs) on clinician burnout both directly and indirectly. Informatics approaches to EHR usability tend to focus on the extrinsic motivation associated with successful completion of clearly defined tasks in clinical workflows. Intrinsic motivation, which includes the need for autonomy, sense-making, creativity, connectedness, and mastery is not well supported by current designs and workflows. This piece examines existing research on the importance of 3 psychological drives in relation to healthcare technology: goal-based decision-making, sense-making, and agency/autonomy. Because these motives are ubiquitous, foundational to human functioning, automatic, and unconscious, they may be overlooked in technological interventions. The results are increased cognitive load, emotional distress, and unfulfilling workplace environments. Ultimately, we hope to stimulate new research on EHR design focused on expanding functionality to support intrinsic motivation, which, in turn, would decrease burnout and improve care.
... Durch das Etablieren von Routinen nach der Arbeit, die nicht mit Arbeitsanforderungen assoziiert werden, wie Hobbies und Familienaktivitäten, können sich Beschäftigte von arbeitsbezogenen Gedanken ablenken. Darüber hinaus wurde gezeigt, dass unerfüllte Aufgaben und Ziele aufgrund ihrer anhaltenden kognitiven Aktivierung mentales Abschalten erschweren (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Die Erstellung von spezifischen Plänen helfe einerseits, Ziele zu erreichen und setze andererseits kognitive Ressourcen frei, wodurch mentales Abschalten erleichtert werde. ...
Book
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Aufgrund der Anforderungen, die Informations- und Kommuni-kationstechnologien (IKT) an Beschäftigte stellen, können diese Schwierigkeiten haben, sich mental von der Arbeit während arbeitsfreier Zeit zu distanzieren. Dadurch kann wiederum ein erhöhter Erholungsbedarf entstehen, welcher ein Frühwarnindikator für langfristige Gesundheitsbeschwerden und Krankheitstage ist. Die vorliegende Arbeit untersucht den Einfluss von IKT-Anforderungen auf den Erholungsbedarf sowie die moderierende und mediierende Rolle von mentalem Abschalten am Wochenende. Auf Grundlage des Stressor-Detachment Modells von Sonnentag und Fritz (2015) wird angenommen, dass das IKT-Arbeitspensum den Erholungsbedarf verstärkt und dass mentales Abschalten den Zusammenhang zwischen IKT-Arbeitspensum und Erholungsbedarf moderiert sowie mediiert. An einer anfallenden Stichprobe von N = 110 Beschäftigten aus Deutschland wurden Querschnittsdaten über einen Online-Fragebogen erhoben. Die Ergebnisse der hierarchischen Regressionsanalyse bestätigen den unerwünschten Effekt von IKT-Arbeitspensum auf den Erholungsbedarf. Die Ergebnisse der Mediationsanalyse zeigen zudem, dass mentales Abschalten den Effekt von IKT-Arbeitspensum auf Erholungsbedarf mediiert. Allerdings unterstützen die Ergebnisse der Moderationsanalyse nicht den moderierenden Effekt. Interventionsmaßnahmen zur Verringerung des Erholungsbedarfs, indem die IKT-Anforderungen reduziert (z. B. durch Kommunikationsmaßnahmen) und mentales Abschalten erleichtert werden (z. B. durch die Segmentation von Arbeit und Zuhause), werden abgeleitet. Zukünftige Forschung sollte das Zusammenspiel der Variablen in einer Längsschnittstudie untersuchen und dabei zusätzliche IKT-Anforderungen in Augenschein nehmen. Download: https://www.fom.de/fileadmin/fom/forschung/iwp/Schriftenreihe/FOM-Forschung-iwp-Schriftenreihe-Band-08-Bruehne-IKT-und-Erholungsbedarf-2021-eBook.pdf
... Research has shown that making formal plans to return to unfinished goals reduces the cognitive interference associated with those unfinished tasks and allows people to channel their cognitive resources toward matters at hand (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Similar to the idea that writing down ruminating thoughts helps to assuage concerns that they will be forgotten overnight and, thus, allows for better sleep (Harvey & Farrell, 2003), explicitly documenting important unresolved home matters may increase confidence that those matters will not be forgotten during the day. ...
Article
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People often drag their feet getting started at work each morning, with a rather unclear sense of the implications on their daily productivity. Drawing on boundary transitions theory as a conceptual lens, we introduce and investigate the concept of the speed of engagement-the quickness with which an employee becomes focused and energized upon beginning work. We explore the productivity implications of this phenomenon, as well as the psychological processes people use to capitalize on a quick transition to work. Two experience sampling field studies-one of which featured a within-person field experiment testing the efficacy of two interventions we designed for use on employees' smartphones-support our theorizing. Our findings highlight the importance of the speed of engagement-over and above the level of engagement-for daily productivity levels. They also reveal that simple proactive steps to psychologically disengage from home or reattach to work increase the speed of engagement and lead to more productive days at work. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... This "mental reminder" involves a constant recalling of unfinished tasks as demonstrated by Ovsiankina. She showed that 100% of fortuitously interrupted tasks are spontaneously resumed at the earliest opportunity [2][3][4]. ...
... Hence, we did not provide any instructions on how to implement change goals in one's daily life. Still, long-term change goals, being measured on a broad trait level, could be too abstract (see for example the abstractness of the item 'I want to be original, come up with new ideas') for people to successfully translate them into subordinate but more concrete plans or short-term goals without psychological assistance (Bandura, 2001;Emmons, 1992;Gollwitzer, 1999;Hudson & Fraley, 2015;Magidson et al., 2014;Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). Specific if-then implementation intentions seem to be necessary to increase the likelihood of goal attainment, and vague plans could even inhibit change (Hudson & Fraley, 2015;Robinson et al., 2015). ...
Article
Most adults want to change aspects of their personality. However, previous studies have provided mixed evidence on whether such change goals can be successfully implemented, perhaps partly due to neglecting the goals’ importance and feasibility as well as the experience of trait-relevant situations and states. This study examined associations between change goals and changes in self-reported Big Five traits assessed four times across two years in an age-heterogeneous sample of 382 adults (255 younger adults, M age = 21.6 years; 127 older adults, M age = 67.8 years). We assessed trait-relevant momentary situations and states in multiple waves of daily diaries over the first year ( M = 43.9 days). Perceived importance and feasibility of change goals were analysed as potentially moderating factors. Contrary to our hypotheses, the results demonstrated that neither change goals nor goal importance or feasibility were consistently associated with trait change, likely due to inconsistent associations with momentary situations and behaviours. The results suggest that wanting to change one’s traits does not necessarily lead to changes without engaging in trait-relevant situations and behaviours. These findings provide novel insights into the boundary conditions of volitional personality development.
... For example, people who were interrupted during an experimental task could not fully disengage from it and remembered the incomplete parts of the task better than the completed parts (Zeigarnik, 1927). And while people sometimes struggle to get unresolved goals off their mind (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011), other times they are concerned they will forget to finish the goal. In these situations, people may actively invest mental effort in trying to remember to complete the goal. ...
Article
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What makes patients impatient? We find that people both make impatient health decisions and experience impatience when waiting for healthcare partially because they are eager to achieve psychological closure on their goals. Across five preregistered studies (N = 1806), we first document an increased preference for a worse health device (Study 1) and more painful treatment (Study 2) when they allow for earlier goal closure, even though they would not provide remedy sooner. We next find that because the desire to achieve closure increases with proximity to a goal, the experience of impatience increases closer to the completion of a medical checkup (Studies 3–5). We discuss the implications of people’s desire to reach goal closure on the pursuit of both health habits and health care.
... Writing lists of goals may actually increase productivity by unburdening the executive areas of the brain from having to chronicle tasks to be accomplished. 1,17 There are many different strategies for writing "to-do" lists. Some people like to use electronic lists on their computers, tablets or phone, while others prefer using a pen and paper to keep track of goals. ...
... 18 Specifically, we induced participants with the goal to evaluate pattern deviancy as negative (positive) and unbroken patterns as positive (negative) and while this goal was active-before goal-attainment had occurred-participants completed the disliking statistical minorities and racial prejudice measures. Goals generally remain active and intrude on current tasks and judgments until goal-attainment is achieved (e.g., Förster, Liberman, & Friedman, 2007;Förster, Liberman, & Higgins, 2005;Klinger, 1975;Martin & Tesser, 1989;Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011). ...
Article
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Research has documented an overlap between people's aversion toward nonsocial pattern deviancy (e.g., a row of triangles with 1 triangle out of line) and their social prejudice. It is unknown which processes underlie this association, however, and whether this link is causal. We propose that pattern deviancy aversion may contribute to prejudice by heightening people's dislike of statistical minorities. Infrequent people in a population are pattern deviant in that they disrupt the statistical regularities of how people tend to look, think, and act in society, and this deviancy should incite others' prejudice. Nine studies (N = 1,821) supported this mediation. In Studies 1.1 and 1.2, adults' and young children's nonsocial pattern deviancy aversion related to disliking novel statistical minorities, and this dislike predicted prejudice against Black people. Studies 1.3 and 1.4 observed this mediation when experimentally manipulating pattern deviancy aversion, although pattern deviancy aversion did not directly impact racial prejudice. Study-set 2 replicated the proposed mediation in terms of prejudice against other commonly stigmatized individuals (e.g., someone with a physical disability). Importantly, we also found pattern deviancy aversion to affect such prejudice. Study-set 3 provided additional support for the mediation model. Pattern deviancy aversion predicted prejudice dependent on group-size, for instance, greater racial prejudice in cases where Black people are the statistical minority, but decreased racial prejudice when Black people are the statistical majority. Taken together, these findings indicate that people's aversion toward pattern deviancy motivates prejudice, and that this influence is partially driven by a dislike of statistical minorities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
... Also, among the scrambled sentences we used, the Chinese sentence structure was similar to the English sentence structure. In accordance with prior priming research (Gino & Ariely, 2012;Masicampo & Baumeister, 2011), immediately following the priming procedure, we administered a 2-min filler task (describing their demographics, job characteristics, and typical weekday) to ensure participants did not consciously contemplate the priming manipulation in part 1. Then, in the context of an ostensibly independent study, participants were invited to engage in part 2 of the study and report measures of creative mindset and state-based moral disengagement. ...
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Contributing to abusive supervision, creative leadership, and negative creativity research, we examine how and when leaders’ creative mindset relates to interpersonal aggression toward followers in the form of abusive supervision. Drawing upon moral disengagement theory, we theorize that leaders’ daily creative mindset positively relates to daily episodes of abusive supervision via state-based moral disengagement. Furthermore, we propose that trait-based moral disengagement moderates this indirect process such that low trait-based moral disengagement diminishes this effect. We found support for our hypotheses using a longitudinal study with a daily data collection over a 2-week period (Study 1) and an experimental study (Study 2). Our findings reveal the potential perils of leader creativity in leader-follower contexts and the importance of considering the moral disengagement process.
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Five experiments investigated a previously unrecognized phenomenon—remembering that one enacted a mundane behavioral decision when one only intended to do so—and its psychological mechanisms. The theoretical conceptualization advanced in this research proposes that this error stems from a misattribution when an intention and a behavior are similar. Intentions and behaviors are similar when the physical aspects of the behavior resemble the intention (e.g., both require similar keystrokes) and when the behavior and the intention share mental contents (e.g., both rely on the same criterion). Experiments 1 and 2 introduced a paradigm with similar intentions and enactments and showed misreports and subsequent performance errors even when controlling for guessing. Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrated greater confusion when the physical involvement and mental criteria for intention and behavior were similar. Finally, Experiment 5 indicated that monitoring enactment is highly effective at reducing this error and more effective than monitoring intention.
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When people encounter problems in translating their goals into action (e.g., failing to get started, becoming distracted, or falling into bad habits), they may strategically call on automatic processes in an attempt to secure goal attainment. This can be achieved by plans in the form of implementation intentions that link anticipated critical situations to goal-directed responses ("Whenever situation x arises, I will initiate the goal-directed response y!"). Implementation intentions delegate the control of goal-directed responses to anticipated situational cues, which (when actually encountered) elicit these responses automatically. A program of research demonstrates that implementation intentions further the attainment of goals, and it reveals the underlying processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Discusses issues in the cognitive representation and control of action from the perspective of action identification theory. This theory holds that any action can be identified in many ways, ranging from low-level identities that specify how the action is performed to high-level identities that signify why or with what effect the action is performed. The level of identification most likely to be adopted by an actor is dictated by processes reflecting a trade-off between concerns for comprehensive action understanding and effective action maintenance. This suggests that the actor is always sensitive to contextual cues to higher levels of identification but moves to lower levels of identification if the action proves difficult to maintain with higher level identities in mind. These processes are documented empirically, as is their coordinated interplay in promoting a level of prepotent identification that matches the upper limits of the actor's capacity to perform the action. Implications are developed for action stability, the psychology of performance impairment, personal vs situational causation, and the behavioral bases of self-understanding. (87 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This article addresses the convergence and complementarity between self-regulatory control-process models of behavior and dynamic systems models. The control-process view holds that people have a goal in mind and try to move toward it (or away from it), monitoring the extent to which a discrepancy remains between the goal and one's present state and taking steps to reduce the discrepancy (or enlarge it). Dynamic systems models tend to emphasize a bottom-up self-organization process, in which a coherence arises from among many simultaneous influences, moving the system toward attractors and away from repellers. We suggest that these differences in emphasis reflect two facets of a more complex reality involving both types of processes. Discussion focuses on how self-organization may occur within constituent elements of a feedback system—the input function, the output function, and goal values being used by the system—and how feedback processes themselves can reflect self-organizing tendencies.
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Self-regulatory strategies of goal setting and goal striving are analyzed in three experiments. Experiment 1 uses fantasy realization theory (Oettingen, in: J. Brandstätter, R.M. Lerner (Eds.), Action and Self Development: Theory and Research through the Life Span, Sage Publications Inc, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1999, pp. 315–342) to analyze the self-regulatory processes of turning free fantasies about a desired future into binding goals. School children 8–12 years of age who had to mentally elaborate a desired academic future as well as present reality standing in its way, formed stronger goal commitments than participants solely indulging in the desired future or merely dwelling on present reality (Experiment 1). Effective implementation of set goals is addressed in the second and third experiments (Gollwitzer, Am. Psychol. 54 (1999) 493–503). Adolescents who had to furnish a set educational goal with relevant implementation intentions (specifying where, when, and how they would start goal pursuit) were comparatively more successful in meeting the goal (Experiment 2). Linking anticipated situations with goal-directed behaviors (i.e., if–then plans) rather than the mere thinking about good opportunities to act makes implementation intentions facilitate action initiation (Experiment 3).
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This paper briefly reviews the evidence for multistore theories of memory and points out some difficulties with the approach. An alternative framework for human memory research is then outlined in terms of depth or levels of processing. Some current data and arguments are reexamined in the light of this alternative framework and implications for further research considered.
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Findings from 3 experiments suggest that participants who were actively engaged in goal pursuit, compared with those who were not pursuing the goal, automatically evaluated goal-relevant objects as relatively more positive than goal-irrelevant objects. In Experiment 3, participants' automatic evaluations also predicted their behavioral intentions toward goal-relevant objects. These results suggest the functional nature of automatic evaluation and are in harmony with the classic conceptualization of thinking and feeling as being in the service of "doing" (e.g., S. T. Fiske, 1992; W. James, 1890; K. Lewin, 1926) as well as with more recent work on the cognitive mechanics of goal pursuit (e.g., G. B. Moskowitz, 2002; J. Y. Shah & A.W. Kruglanski, 2002).
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Everyday intuitions suggest full conscious control of behavior, but evidence of unconscious causation and automaticity has sustained the contrary view that conscious thought has little or no impact on behavior. We review studies with random assignment to experimental manipulations of conscious thought and behavioral dependent measures. Topics include mental practice and simulation, anticipation, planning, reflection and rehearsal, reasoning, counterproductive effects, perspective taking, self-affirmation, framing, communication, and overriding automatic responses. The evidence for conscious causation of behavior is profound, extensive, adaptive, multifaceted, and empirically strong. However, conscious causation is often indirect and delayed, and it depends on interplay with unconscious processes. Consciousness seems especially useful for enabling behavior to be shaped by nonpresent factors and by social and cultural information, as well as for dealing with multiple competing options or impulses. It is plausible that almost every human behavior comes from a mixture of conscious and unconscious processing.
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Past research has demonstrated that implementation intentions (i.e., if–then plans) facilitate goal striving by two processes: increasing the activation of the anticipated situational cue (the if–process) and automating the goal–directed response to that cue (the then–process; Gollwitzer, 1999; Webb & Sheeran, in press). Two studies investigated the implications for the course of goal striving guided by implementation intentions. When implementation intentions achieved their effects by facilitating cue identification (the if–process), alternative cues were disregarded (Study 1). On the contrary, when implementation intentions achieved their effects by the automation of the critical response (the then–process), alternative goal–directed responses were still considered (Study 2). We discuss these results with respect to the functioning of implementation intentions and the use of alternative means in planned goal pursuit.
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Holding a strong goal intention ("I intend to reach Z!") does not guarantee goal achievement, because people may fail to deal effectively with selfregulatory problems during goal striving. This review analyzes wether realization of goal intentions is facilitated by forming an implementation intention that spells out the when, where, and how of goal striving in advance ("If situation Y is encountered, then I will initiate goal-directed behavior X!"). Findings from 94 independent tests showed that implementation intentions had a positive effect of medium-to-large magnitude (d= .65) on goal attainment. Implementation intentions were effective in promoting the initiation of goal striving, the shielding of ongoing goal pursuit from unwanted influences, disengagement from failing courses of action, and conservation of capability for future goal striving. There was also strong support for postulatad component processes: Implementation intention formation both enhanced the accessibility of specified opportunities and automated respective goal-directed responses. Several directions for future research are outlined.
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The theoretical distinction between goal intentions ("I intend to achieve -c") and implementation intentions ("I intend to perform goal-directed behavior y when I encounter situation z"; P. M. Gollwitzer, 1993) is explored by assessing the completion rate of various goal projects. In correlational Study 1, difficult goal intentions were completed about 3 times more often when participants had furnished them with implementation intentions. In experimental Study 2, all participants were assigned the same difficult goal intention, and half were instructed to form implementation intentions. The beneficial effects of implementation intentions paralleled diose of Study 1. In experimental Study 3, implementation intentions were observed to facilitate the immediate initiation of goaldirected action when the intended opportunity was encountered. Implementation intentions are interpreted to be powerful self-regulatory tools for overcoming the typical obstacles associated with the initiation of goal-directed actions.
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We propose that, in the pursuit of ongoing goals, optimistic expectations of future goal pursuit have greater impact on immediate actions than do less optimistic considerations, such as retrospections on past goal pursuit or less optimistic expectations. Further, we propose that the direction of the impact is determined by the framing of goal pursuit: it motivates goal-congruent actions when goal pursuit is framed as commitment to the goal but motivates goal-incongruent actions when the pursuit is framed as progress toward the goal. Four studies provided consistent support for the proposed hypothesis. (c) 2007 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..
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Attention plays an essential role in the construction of the mental models necessary to make sense of ongoing events. In this article, we consider the implications of temporary inattention during reading for the construction and updating of the situation model during text comprehension. We examined how self-reported mind wandering during reading relates to the online construction of the situation model of the narrative, which in this case involved the pseudonym used by a villain in a detective novella. In successful readers, mind wandering without awareness, referred to as zoning out, was less frequent when the text revealed a clue about the villain's identity. Additional analyses indicated that mind wandering interfered with the construction of the situation model independent of the participants' ability to retrieve factual information. The analysis of the temporal consequences of zoning out indicated that lapses had the greatest influence when they occurred early in the narrative. These results confirm the intuition that zoning out during reading is an indication that the construction of the situation model has gone awry, and underscore the fact that our ability to understand ongoing events depends on the ability to pay attention when it matters.
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Implementation intentions ("If I encounter Situation X, then I'll perform Behavior Y!") are postulated to instigate automatic action initiation. In 4 studies, the hypothesis was tested that implementation intentions lead to immediate action initiation once the specified situation is encountered, even under conditions of high cognitive load. First, individuals whose action control is known to be hampered by disruptive cognitive business, such as opiate addicts under withdrawal (Study 1) and schizophrenic patients (Study 2), benefited from forming implementation intentions. Second, the beneficial effect of implementation intentions was also found in 2 experiments with university students (Studies 3 and 4) in which cognitive load was experimentally induced by using dual task paradigms. Results of the 4 studies suggest that forming implementation intentions instigates immediate action initiation that is also efficient.
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Six studies explore the role of goal shielding in self-regulation:by examining how the activation of focal goals to which the individual is committed inhibits the accessibility, of alternative goals. Consistent evidence was found for such goal shielding, and a number of its moderators were identified: Individuals' level of commitment to the focal goal, their degree of anxiety and depression, their need for cognitive closure, and differences in their goal-related tenacity. Moreover, inhibition of alternative goals was found to be, more pronounced when they serve the same overarching purpose as the focal goal, but lessened when the alternative goals facilitate focal goal attainment. Finally; goal shielding was shown to have beneficial consequences for goal pursuit and attainment.
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Behavior and experience are organized around the enjoyment and pursuit of incentives. During the time that an incentive is behaviorally salient, an organism is especially responsive to incentive-related cues. This sustained sensitivity requires postulating a continuing state (denoted by a construct, current concern) with a definite onset (commitment) and offset (consummation or disengagement). Disengagement follows frustration, accompanies the behavioral process of extinction, and involves an incentive-disengagement cycle of invigoration, aggression, depression, and recovery. Depression is thus a normal part of disengagement that may be either adaptive or maladaptive for the individual but is probably adaptive for the species. The theory offers implications for motivation; etiology, symptomatology, and treatment of depression; drug use; and other social problem areas.
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Personal projects are extended sets of personally relevant action, which can range from the trivial pursuits of a typical Tuesday (e.g., “cleaning up my room”) to the magnificent obsessions of a lifetime (e.g., “liberate my people”). They may be self-initiated or thrust upon us. They may be solitary concerns or shared commitments. They may be isolated and peripheral aspects of our lives or may cut to our very core. Personal projects may sustain us through perplexity or serve as vehicles for our own obliteration. In short, personal projects are natural units of analysis for a personality psychology that chooses to deal with the serious business of how people muddle through complex lives (Little, 1987a).
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Much work has shown that planning facilitates goal attainment. The present work demonstrates that while plans generally make people more likely to act on a goal, they may sometimes lead to failure rather than to success, particularly when recognizing and seizing an alternative opportunity is essential for achieving the goal. Participants were assigned a goal in the lab, with sufficient or insufficient time and with a specific plan or broad intention to attain it. With sufficient (unlimited) time, a specific plan increased attainment, thus replicating the usual benefit of planning. Within the insufficient time condition, however, the specific plan impaired performance, because participants failed to capitalize on an alternative opportunity for achieving the goal. When openness to alternatives is crucial to success, plans can drastically decrease overall rates of attainment.
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Goal gradients refer to the increase in motivation as a function of goal proximity. We propose that motivation does not always increase closer to the goal, and that in order to predict the shape and steepness of goal gradients one needs to look at how distance affects the two components of motivation—expectancy and value. Furthermore, we distinguish between four aspects of expectancy (probability, difficulty, sufficiency, necessity) and two types of value (value related to high level construal, value related to low level construal), each of which has a unique distance-related dynamics. It is proposed that motivational gradients are determined by the effect that distance has on each of these components. Our study demonstrated gradients of motivation, sufficiency and necessity, but not difficulty. We discuss whether avoidance gradients would be necessarily steeper than approach gradients, as is postulated by Miller’s (1944) conflict models. We also suggest that in some situations (e.g., when gradients reflect necessity) gradients would be moderated by regulatory focus (e.g., would be steeper in a prevention focus than in a promotion focus, Higgins, 1998).
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Mental simulations enhance the links between thought and action. The present research contrasted mental simulations that emphasize the process required to achieve a goal versus the outcome of goal achievement. For 5 to 7 days prior to a midterm examination, college freshmen mentally simulated either the process for doing well on the exam (good study habits) or simulated a desired outcome (getting a good grade) or both. A self-monitoring control condition was included. Results indicated that process simulation enhanced studying and improved grades; the latter effect was mediated by enhanced planning and reduced anxiety. Implications of process and outcome simulations for effective goal pursuit are discussed.
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Two experiments based upon Gollwitzer's (1993) concept of implementation intentions are described. In both experiments, attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control and intentions from Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behaviour were used to measure participants' motivation prior to an intervention in which participants made implementation intentions specifying where and when they would take a vitamin C pill each day. Behaviours were assessed by self-report and pill count at both 10 days and 3 weeks in Experiment 1, and at 2 weeks and 5 weeks in Experiment 2. Results supported the view that participants who formed implementation intentions were less likely to miss taking a pill every day compared to controls. Evidence suggested that implementation intentions were effective because they allowed participants to pass control of behaviour to the environmental cues contained in the implementation intention. Implications of the study and some suggestions for future research are outlined. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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This study concerns the implications of Peter Gollwitzer's concept of implementation intentions for Icek Ajzen's theory of planned behavior. Attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control, and intentions were assessed before an intervention that required subjects to make implementation intentions concerning when and where they would perform breast self-examination during the next month. Behavior was assessed by self-report 1 month later. Results supported Gollwitzer's contention that goal intentions that have been supplemented by implementation intentions concerning where and when the behavior is to be performed are more likely to be enacted. Evidence suggested that implementation intentions were effective because they provided a mechanism that facilitated the retrieval of intentions in memory. Implementation intentions also reduced the capacity of past behavior to predict future behavior, suggesting that implementation intentions mimic the effect of habit in human action. Implications for applications of models of attitude-behavior relations are outlined.
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ABSTRACT The unconscious mind is still viewed by many psychological scientists as the shadow of a “real” conscious mind, though there now exists substantial evidence that the unconscious is not identifiably less flexible, complex, controlling, deliberative, or action-oriented than is its counterpart. This “conscious-centric” bias is due in part to the operational definition within cognitive psychology that equates unconscious with subliminal. We review the evidence challenging this restricted view of the unconscious emerging from contemporary social cognition research, which has traditionally defined the unconscious in terms of its unintentional nature; this research has demonstrated the existence of several independent unconscious behavioral guidance systems: perceptual, evaluative, and motivational. From this perspective, it is concluded that in both phylogeny and ontogeny, actions of an unconscious mind precede the arrival of a conscious mind—that action precedes reflection.
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This book provides a foundation to the principles of psychology. It draws upon the natural sciences, avoiding metaphysics, for the basis of its information. According to James, this book, assuming that thoughts and feelings exist and are vehicles of knowledge, thereupon contends that psychology, when it has ascertained the empirical correlation of the various sorts of thought or feeling with definite conditions of the brain, can go no farther as a natural science. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Proposes an integrative theoretical framework for studying psychological aspects of incentive relationships. During the time that an incentive is behaviorally salient, an organism is especially responsive to incentive-related cues. This sustained sensitivity requires postulating a continuing state (denoted by a construct, current concern) with a definite onset (commitment) and offset (consummation or disengagement). Disengagement follows frustration, accompanies the behavioral process of extinction, and involves an incentive-disengagement cycle of invigoration, aggression, depression, and recovery. Depression is thus a normal part of disengagement that may be either adaptive or maladaptive for the individual but is probably adaptive for the species. Implications for motivation; etiology, symptomatology, and treatment of depression; drug use; and other social problem areas are discussed. (41/2 p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The principles of conflict behavior—rather than its experimental production—are considered here. A theoretical analysis in terms of approach and avoidance situations is followed by a thorough consideration of experimental evidence testing deductions from the theory. Bibliography. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In 4 experiments the authors investigated dynamic properties of representations of intentions. After Ss had memorized 2 texts describing simple activities, they were instructed that they would have to later execute one of the scripts. On an intervening recognition test, words from the to-be-executed script produced faster latencies than did words from a 2nd to-be-memorized script. This intention-superiority effect was obtained even when (1) selective encoding and poststudy imagery or rehearsal of the to-be-executed script was prohibited and (2) Ss expected a final free-recall test for both scripts. In a control condition in which Ss had to observe someone else executing a script, latencies for words from the to-be-observed script did not differ from neutral words. In conclusion, representations of intentions show a heightened level of subthreshold activation in long-term memory that cannot be accounted for by the use of controlled strategies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a relatively new website that contains the major elements required to conduct research: an integrated participant compensation system; a large participant pool; and a streamlined process of study design, participant recruitment, and data collection. In this article, we describe and evaluate the potential contributions of MTurk to psychology and other social sciences. Findings indicate that (a) MTurk participants are slightly more demographically diverse than are standard Internet samples and are significantly more diverse than typical American college samples; (b) participation is affected by compensation rate and task length, but participants can still be recruited rapidly and inexpensively; (c) realistic compensation rates do not affect data quality; and (d) the data obtained are at least as reliable as those obtained via traditional methods. Overall, MTurk can be used to obtain high-quality data inexpensively and rapidly. © The Author(s) 2011.
Article
It is generally accepted that forming an implementation intention promotes goal pursuit and achievement. Forming an implementation intention encourages people to develop a plan, to prepare for events that allow for the execution of the plan, and to efficiently respond to these opportunities. Yet, forming an implementation intention may not be universally beneficial. An implementation intention may encourage the use of means that are part of the plan but may discourage the use of efficacious means that are not part of the plan. Four experiments show that forming an implementation intention decreases the likelihood of responding to goal-directed, out-of-plan behaviors when a person is in a concrete mind-set. Limitations, implications, and directions for future research are discussed. (c) 2010 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..
Article
Two experiments examined whether accessible goals preconsciously direct selective attention. Goal activation was manipulated by one's goal pursuit being either undermined or affirmed (resulting in an experienced state of either incompleteness or completeness). Attention responses were assessed through a Stroop-like task (Experiment 1) and a response-time task in which participants indicated a stimulus' direction of motion (Experiment 2). Results showed that when goals were accessible, attention was drawn toward goal-relevant items—even when these items were to be ignored and when responses occurred too fast for conscious control. Accessible goals directed implicit cognition (i.e., attention toward stimuli associated with the goal), despite the fact that these goals were not chronically held, but manipulated in the lab.
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In six studies participants searched for a target stimulus among other stimuli. Lexical decision and Stroop measures of accessibility showed that accessibility of target-related words was enhanced prior to finding the target and reduced after finding it, relative to both a preceding stage, relative to a control, no-goal condition and relative to a condition in which the goal was not fulfilled. In addition, Studies 4, 5, and 6 showed that goal-related accessibility and post-fulfillment inhibition were proportional to the goal’s expectancy, the goal’s value, and their interaction. Together, these studies support the notion that goals enhance accessibility of the goal-related constructs, which is maintained as long as the goal is active, goal fulfillment inhibits accessibility of goal-related constructs, and these effects are proportional to the strength of the motivation.
Article
We conceptualized an interrupted priming task as a state of an unfulfilled goal and a completed priming task as a post-fulfillment state. The accessibility of a primed construct was measured with both lexical decision and impression formation procedures. Lexical decisions showed enhanced accessibility of prime-related constructs after interrupted priming and reduced accessibility of the prime-related construct after completed priming. Replicating previous findings [Martin, L. L. (1986). Set/reset: Use and disuse of concepts in impression formation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 493–504], an ambiguous target was assimilated to the primed construct after interrupted priming, and was contrasted away from the primed construct after completed priming. Together, these results suggest that task fulfillment instigates inhibition of accessible constructs, in addition to (or instead of) a process of suppressing accessible constructs upon encountering a new target. These findings demonstrate how motivation can affect accessibility through inhibition as well as through suppression.
Article
Research on ego-depletion suggests that the ability to self-regulate one's behavior is limited: Exerting self-control on an initial task reduces performance on a subsequent task that also requires self-control. Two experiments tested whether forming implementation intentions could prevent ego-depletion and/or offset the effects of ego-depletion. Experiment 1found that participants who formed implementation intentions during an initial ego-depleting task subsequently showed greater persistence on an unsolvable puzzles task compared to participants who did not form implementation intentions. Experiment 2 found that among participants who had been ego-depleted during an initial task, forming implementation intentions improved subsequent performance on a Stroop task to the level exhibited by non-depleted controls. Thus, implementation intentions help to enhance people's ability to self-regulate their behavior.
Article
Even after one stops actively pursuing a goal, many mental processes remain focused on the goal (e.g., the Zeigarnik effect), potentially occupying limited attentional and working memory resources. Five studies examined whether the processes associated with unfulfilled goals would interfere with tasks that require the executive function, which has a limited focal capacity and can pursue only one goal at a time. In Studies and , activating a goal nonconsciously and then manipulating unfulfillment caused impairments on later tasks requiring fluid intelligence (solving anagrams; Study 1) and impulse control (dieting; Study 2). Study 3 showed that impairments were specific to executive functioning tasks: an unfulfilled goal impaired performance on logic problems but not on a test of general knowledge (only the former requires executive functions). Study 4 found that the effect was moderated by individual differences; participants who reported a tendency to shift readily amongst their various pursuits showed no task interference. Study 5 found that returning to fulfill a previously frustrated goal eliminated the interference effect. These findings provide converging evidence that unfulfilled goals can interfere with later tasks, insofar as they require executive functions.
Article
Class attendance is an important determinant of academic success yet a significant proportion of students miss class. The present study investigated the deliberative and personality correlates of class attendance alongside an implementation intention intervention that asked students to specify when, where, and how they would attend class. Class attendance was found to be a function of conscientiousness (more conscientious students were more likely to attend), openness to experience (more open students were less likely to attend), goal intentions (more motivated students were more likely to attend), and the implementation intention intervention (students who formed specific plans about when, where, and how to attend were more likely to attend). Furthermore, there was a significant interaction between the implementation intention intervention and conscientiousness; the intervention had a greater impact on class attendance for low or moderately conscientious students than for highly conscientious students.