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Front Psychol. 2016 Apr 29;7:607. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00607. eCollection 2016.

Supporting Sustainable Food Consumption: Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII) Aligns Intentions and Behavior.

Author information

1
Media Psychology Division, School of Communication, University of HohenheimStuttgart, Germany; Social Psychology and Motivation Division, Department of Psychology, University of KonstanzKonstanz, Germany.
2
Social Psychology and Motivation Division, Department of Psychology, University of KonstanzKonstanz, Germany; Centre for Health Sciences, School of Health Professions, Zurich University of Applied SciencesWinterthur, Switzerland.
3
Social Psychology and Motivation Division, Department of Psychology, University of KonstanzKonstanz, Germany; Motivation Lab, Psychology Department, New York UniversityNew York, NY, USA.
4
Motivation Lab, Psychology Department, New York UniversityNew York, NY, USA; Educational Psychology and Motivation Division, Department of Psychology, University of HamburgHamburg, Germany.

Abstract

With growing awareness that sustainable consumption is important for quality of life on earth, many individuals intend to act more sustainably. In this regard, interest in reducing meat consumption is on the rise. However, people often do not translate intentions into actual behavior change. To address this intention-behavior gap, we tested the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII). Here, people identify and imagine a desired future and current obstacles standing in its way. They address the obstacles with if-then plans specifying when, where, and how to act differently. In a 5-week randomized controlled experimental study, we compared an information + MCII intervention with an information-only control intervention. As hypothesized, only MCII participants' intention of reducing their meat consumption was predictive of their actual reduction, while no correspondence between intention and behavior change was found for control participants. Participants with a moderate to strong intention to reduce their meat consumption reduced it more in the MCII than in the control condition. Thus, MCII helped to narrow the intention-behavior gap and supported behavior change for those holding moderate and strong respective intentions.

KEYWORDS:

behavior change intervention; implementation intention; intention-behavior gap; meat consumption; mental contrasting; sustainable consumption

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