The Motivational Impact of an Ideal Self Intervention on Goal-Directed Behaviours as Mediated by Positive or Negative Affect
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This research examines the connection between the behavioural and affective responses to envisioning an ideal self. In Study 1, undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of two conditions and were given a workbook. In the treatment, ideal self condition, students’ workbooks encouraged them to envision their ideal academic self. In the control condition, students’ workbooks were superficially the same but without the envisioning of an ideal academic self. Students were found to increase the quality and quantity of their study behaviours in the weeks after the experimental treatment to the extent that they experienced positive affect (e.g., excitement, inspiration). In Study 2, a systematic replication further supported the mediating role of positive affect, and again did not support the mediating role of negative affect (e.g., guilt, shame). Implications for future interventions are discussed, including the recommendation to seek to induce positive affect (e.g., anticipatory pride) but not negative affect (e.g., dissatisfaction with the current self) in interventions of this kind.