Schweiger Gallo, I., Keil, A., McCulloch, K. C., Rockstroh, B., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2009). Strategic automation of emotion regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 11-31.
As implementation intentions are a powerful self-regulation tool for thought and action (meta-analysis by P. M. Gollwitzer & P. Sheeran, 2006), the present studies were conducted to address their effectiveness in regulating emotional reactivity. Disgust- (Study 1) and fear- (Study 2) eliciting stimuli were viewed under 3 different self-regulation instructions: the goal intention to not get disgusted or frightened, respectively, this goal intention furnished with an implementation intention (i.e., an if-then plan), and a no-self-regulation control group. Only implementation-intention participants succeeded in reducing their disgust and fear reactions as compared to goal-intention and control participants. In Study 3, electrocortical correlates (using dense-array electroencephalography) revealed differential early visual activity in response to spider slides in ignore implementation-intention participants, as reflected in a smaller P1. Theoretical and applied implications of the present findings for emotion regulation via implementation intentions are discussed.