TP 3: The Self-Regulation of Decision-Relevant Modes of Thought

Principal Investigator: Peter Gollwitzer

Research Team: Maik Bieleke

How can people facilitate reflective decision making in line with current goals? From a dual-process model perspective, decisions may result from both a fast, association based (impulsive) and a slow, rule based (reflective) information processing mode. Conflicts arise if the two systems favour competing options (e.g., when impulsive processes activate action tendencies that are in conflict with chosen goals). As the reflective system is in a disadvantage because of its dependency on cognitive resources and motivation, we propose to bolster it by implementation intentions (IIs; if-then plans). Forming IIs is a self-regulatory strategy that is known to strongly support goal attainment. By linking critical situational cues (if-component) to a goal-directed response (then-component), if-then plans (IIs) create a heightened perceptual and behavioural readiness leading to automatic response initiation. In the present research, the responses specified in the then-part of an II will pertain to taking on a reflective mode of thought. Automatically triggering a reflective mode of thought in critical situations by an II should activate information processing in support of the current focal goal, which in turn should diminish acting on disruptive impulses. We will test this assumption using different economic decision paradigms (ultimatum game, escalation of commitment, sharing common resources).


  • The benefit of no choice: goal-directed plans enhance perceptual processing. Markus Janczyk, Michael Dambacher, Maik Bieleke, and Peter M. Gollwitzer, 2015,
    Psychological Research, Vol. 79, pp. 206-220.

Working Papers

  • If-then Planning Enhances Selective Attention. Maik Bieleke, Michael Dambacher, Ronald Hübner, and Peter M. Gollwitzer, 2015.
  • Self-regulation of Cognitive Reflection. Maik Bieleke, Gabriele Oettingen, and Peter M. Gollwitzer, 2015.
  • Information Processing Styles and Social Value Orientation Interactively Determine Reciprocal Fairness Preferences. Maik Bieleke, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen, and Urs Fischbacher, 2015.
  • Planning to deliberate thoroughly: If-then planned deliberation increases the adjustment of decisions to available feedback. Johannes T. Doerflinger, Torsten Martiny-Huenger, and Peter M. Gollwitzer, 2015.

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