Mental contrasting and transfer of energization

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2014 Feb;40(2):139-52. doi: 10.1177/0146167213507088. Epub 2013 Oct 21.


Mental contrasting a desired future with present reality is a self-regulation strategy that fosters energization in line with a person's expectations of successfully attaining the desired future. We investigated whether physiological energization (measured by systolic blood pressure) elicited by mental contrasting a desired future of solving a given task transfers to effort in an unrelated task. As predicted, mental contrasting a desired future of excelling in an intelligence test (Study 1) and of writing an excellent essay (Study 2) triggered changes in energization that translated into physical effort in squeezing a handgrip (Study 1) and translated into mental effort in writing a get-well letter (Study 2). Results suggest that mental contrasting of solving one task triggers energization that may fuel effort for performing an unrelated task. Implications for intervention research are discussed.

Keywords: effort; energization; expectations; mental contrasting; performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Pressure
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Young Adult