Directed Thinking and Readiness to Change Self-Beneficial Behaviors: Are You Ready for Some Studying?


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Charles G. Lord, Department of Psychology TCU Box 298920, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129. E-mail:


Previous research has suggested that intentions to engage in studying and other self-beneficial activities might be promoted more by thinking about actions one could take than by thinking about reasons for doing so. The present experiments assessed whether the relative efficacy of actions vs. reasons might depend on individuals' readiness to change. Consistent with previous findings on the processes of change most relevant in different stages, the benefits of self-generated actions were more pronounced for participants who were in the later stages of change. This “matching-to-stage” relationship occurred in 2 experiments that differed in stage measurement, how thinking was directed, and which outcomes were measured. The results have both practical and theoretical implications for attempts to change self-beneficial behaviors.