Identifying the 'if' for 'if-then' plans: Combining implementation intentions with cue-monitoring targeting unhealthy snacking behaviour

Aukje A. C. Verhoeven*, Marieke A. Adriaanse, Emely de Vet, Bob M. Fennis, Denise T. D. de Ridder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Implementation intentions aimed at changing unwanted habits require the identification of personally relevant cues triggering the habitual response in order to be effective. To facilitate successful implementation intention formation, in the present study, planning was combined with cue-monitoring, a novel way to gain insight into triggers for unhealthy snacking. It was tested whether keeping a cue-monitoring diary and tailoring implementation intentions accordingly improves plan effectiveness. A 2 Monitoring (cue-monitoring, control) x 2 Planning (implementation intention, goal intention) between subjects design was adopted. Participants (N = 161) monitored their unhealthy snacking behaviour for a week using either a cue-monitoring or a control diary. Participants then formulated a goal intention or an implementation intention tailored to their personal cue. Snacking frequency and caloric intake from unhealthy snacks were examined using a seven-day snack diary. The results did not indicate an interaction but yielded a main effect of Monitoring. Cue-monitoring either or not combined with implementation intentions reduced unhealthy snacking behaviour compared with control. Findings emphasise the effectiveness of cue-monitoring, suggesting that on the short term, cue-monitoring suffices to decrease unhealthy snacking, without additional benefit from planning. Future research should examine whether supplementing cue-monitoring with implementation intentions is required to establish long-term behaviour change maintenance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1476-1492
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology & Health
Volume29
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • implementation intentions
  • habits
  • monitoring
  • unhealthy snacking behaviour
  • behaviour change
  • HABIT STRENGTH
  • INTERVENTIONS
  • METAANALYSIS
  • BREAKING
  • ENHANCE
  • WEIGHT
  • TRIAL
  • POWER

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