Implementation intentions, perfectionism, and goal progress: Perhaps the road to hell is paved with good intentions

  • Powers T
  • Koestner R
  • Topciu R
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Two studies explored whether perfectionism moderates the impact of implementation intentions on goal progress. Study 1 used an implementation intention manipulation to examine the effects of these plans in interaction with perfectionism on the progress of New Year's resolutions. Study 2 added a repeated implementation intention condition and monitored affect and monthly goal progress. The results of both studies revealed a significant backfire effect of the implementation intentions on goal progress for participants high on a particular dimension of perfectionism (socially prescribed perfectionism). These perfectionists reported doing significantly worse at reaching their personal goals when they were asked to formulate implementation intentions than when they completed a control exercise. There also was evidence that implementation planning aroused negative affect for socially prescribed perfectionists. These results are the first to suggest that implementation planning may be contra-indicated for individuals with self-critical tendencies.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Goal progress
  • Implementation intentions
  • Implementation planning
  • Perfectionism
  • Self-criticism

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  • Theodore A. Powers

  • Richard Koestner

  • Raluca A. Topciu

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