As Time Goes By: How Goal and Implementation Intentions Influence Enactment of Short-Fuse Behaviors1


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    The authors thank Peter Gollwitzer, Michael Johnson, Joe Priester, the editor, and the two reviewers for comments and suggestions made on earlier drafts of this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Utpal M. Dholakia, 314 Herring Hall-MS 531, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005-1892. E-mail:


Short-fuse behaviors are actions that must be enacted within a limited window of opportunity for success. Such behaviors are theoretically important because they facilitate study of the intention formation, maintenance, and enactment processes, and have practical value because of their pervasiveness. Building on the recent work of motivational social psychologists, the research reported here explores 2 different components of an individual's intention to enact short-fuse behaviors: goal intention and implementation intention. An initial study demonstrates the nomological validity of these 2 constructs and clarifies the psychological mechanisms underlying each one. Subsequent studies show the independent benefits as well as interactional effects of goal and implementation intentions. Taken together, these results demonstrate the complexity underlying the intention-realization process, elaborate on functioning of goal and implementation intentions, and provide a better understanding of how the intention formation and enactment process transpires for short-fuse behaviors.