Freydefont, L., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2016). Goal striving strategies and effort mobilization: When implementation intentions reduce effort-related cardiac activity during task performance. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 107, 44-53.
Two experiments investigate the influence of goal and implementation intentions on effort mobilization during task performance. Although numerous studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of setting goals and making plans on performance, the effects of goals and plans on effort-related cardiac activity and especially the cardiac preejection period (PEP) during goal striving have not yet been addressed. According to the Motivational Intensity Theory, participants should increase effort mobilization proportionally to task difficulty as long as success is possible and justified. Forming goals and making plans should allow for reduced effort mobilization when participants perform an easy task. However, when the task is difficult, goals and plans should differ in their effect on effort mobilization.Participants who set goals should disengage, whereas participantswho made if-then plans should stay in the field showing high effort mobilization during task performance.As expected, using an easy task in Experiment 1, we observed a lower cardiac PEP in both the implementation intention and the goal intention condition than in the control condition. In Experiment 2, we varied task difficulty and demonstrated that while participants with a mere goal intention disengaged from difficult tasks, participants with an implementation in-
tention increased effort mobilization proportionally with task difficulty. These findings demonstrate the influence of goal striving strategies (i.e., mere goals vs. if-then plans) on effort mobilization during task performance.