Book Chapter
Wieber, F., & Gollwitzer, P. M.

Decoupling one's goal striving from resource depletion by forming implementation intentions

Wieber, F., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2016). Decoupling one's goal striving from resource depletion by forming implementation intentions. In E. Hirt, J. J. Clarkson, L. Jia, & P. M. Egan (Eds.), The state of depletion: Advances in the psychology of self-regulation and self-control. New York, NY: Elsevier.


Previous research has identified a variety of ways to mitigate the ego-depletion effect (ie, whereby exerting self-control in a first task impairs performance in a second self-control task). In the present chapter, we discuss if–then planning (ie, forming implementation intentions; IIs) as an easily applicable self-regulation tool that can help individuals and groups to overcome major threats to effective task performance. After a short overview of research on ego depletion, the moderators of the ego-depletion effect, and recent conceptual developments, we review studies that have directly tested II effects on ego depletion. We differentiate between studies investigating whether IIs can prevent individuals from becoming depleted from studies exploring whether IIs can help participants to overcome the negative consequences of being depleted in subsequent self-control tasks. Because the self-regulation threat of being depleted often cooccurs with other self-regulation threats, we then expand our view to determine whether IIs can have beneficial effects not only with regard to self-regulatory resource depletion but also to other major threats to self-regulation: impulse control and cue exposure, emotional and social distress, lapse-activated pattern and abstinence violations, impairments in self-monitoring and self-awareness, the disruptive influence of other people, and alcohol intoxication. We also review research on the regulation of detrimental self-states (eg, being anxious) by IIs, and on new methods to strengthen self-regulation by combining IIs with helpful strategies such as self-affirmation, setting autonomous goals, and mental contrasting. Finally, we discuss all of these findings and their implications for both the original and more recent conceptual explications of the ego-depletion phenomenon as well as for II research, and point to venues for future investigation.