Thursday, June 29, 2006

Goals and Habits

Peter Gollwitzer about implementation intentions and similar habit relevant thoughts:
People can delegate the initiation of goal-directed behavior to environmental stimuli by forming so-called implementation intentions (If situation x is encountered, I will perform behavior y!). We observed that forming implementation intentions facilitates detecting, attending to, and recalling the critical situation. Moreover, in the presence of the critical situation the initiation of the specified goal-directed behavior is immediate, efficient, and does not need a conscious intent.

We are currently investigating whether forming implementation intentions can be used as an effective self-regulatory tool when it comes to resisting temptations, avoiding to stereotype members of an out-group, blocking unwanted goal pursuits triggered outside the person’s awareness or unwanted implicit perception-behavior effects. Moreover, it is analyzed how efficiently action control via implementation intentions saves a person’s self-regulatory resources. We also ask whether implementation intentions protect a person’s thoughts and actions from unwanted influences of self-states (such as a good or bad mood, self-definitional incompleteness, feelings of anger or sadness) once the critical situation is encountered.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Overview of Addiction Research in NYT Magazine
So what made all those lab rats lose their minds? Bruce Alexander and his research team had a rather simple hypothesis: The rats had awful lives. They were stressed, lonely, bored and looking to self-medicate. To prove it, Alexander created a lab-rat heaven he called Rat Park. The 200-square-foot residence featured bright balls and tin cans to play with, painted creeks and trees to look at and plenty of room for mating and socializing.

Alexander took 16 lucky rats and plopped them into Rat Park, where they were offered water or a sweet, morphine-based cocktail (rats love sweets). Alexander offered the same two drinks to the control group of rats he left isolated in cages. The results? The rat-parkers were apparently having too much fun to bother with artificial highs, because they hardly touched the morphine solution, no matter how sweet Alexander and his colleagues made it. The isolated and arguably depressed rats, on the other hand, eagerly got high, drinking more than a dozen times the amount of the morphine solution as the rats in paradise.