Senior Professor of Social Psychology & Motivation


Peter M. Gollwitzer has worked in academic institutions in the US and in Germany (various universities and the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research), heading different interdisciplinary research groups.

The common theme of his research is the effective self-regulation of thought, feelings, and action. His research methods reach from conducting laboratory studies using cognitive task paradigms and taking neuro-physiological and behavioral measures, to performing field experiments and intervention studies with clinical samples (e.g., children with ADHD, stroke patients, individuals suffering from addictions or anxiety disorders).

Gollwitzer has developed various models of self-regulation: the Theory of Symbolic Self Completion (with Robert A. Wicklund), the Rubicon Model of Action Phases (with Heinz Heckhausen) and its off-spring the Mindset Theory of Action Phases, the Auto-Motive Model of Automatic Goal Striving (with John A. Bargh), and the Theory of If-Then Planning (with Paschal Sheeran).

Gollwitzer, Peter M.
Gollwitzer, Peter M. Prof Dr Dr hc


  • Motivation
  • Social Psychology
  • Lab in Social and Personality Psychology
  • Self-regulation
  • Self and Identity


(1) Self-regulation of Goal Pursuit

  • Mindsets: Various modes of information processing at different phases of goal pursuit
  • Risk perception at different phases of goal pursuit
  • Implementation intentions (if-then plans) vs. goal intentions: Differential effects on cognition, affect, and behavior
  • Conscious vs. non-conscious goal pursuit
  • The role of affect in goal pursuit
  • Determinants of the speed of goal pursuit
  • Flexibility/rigidity in goal pursuit
  • Goal pursuit under adverse contextual influences (e.g., stress)
  • Goal pursuit in clinical samples
  • Planning to think: The self-regulation of making wise decisions
  • Behavior change interventions based on the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII)

(2) Self and Identity

  • Symbolic self-completion: Striving for identity goals by self-symbolizing
  • Social reality of self-symbolizing: Effects of public recognition of identity symbols
  • Social interaction: Interpersonal insensitivity as a consequence of self-symbolizing
  • The pursuit of multiple identity goals
  • Moral identity goals
  • A life-span perspective on the willful pursuit of identity
  • Moral insensitivity while striving for identity goals
  • Self-affirmation vs. self-completion

(3) Emotions

  • Cross-cultural differences in the emotions of fear, disgust, and envy
  • The self-regulation of negative emotions: anger, fear, disgust, envy, and sadness

Time to decide

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