Gabriele Oettingen (born July 22, 1953, Munich) is a Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg. Her research focuses on how people think about the future, and how this impacts cognition, emotion, and behavior.
Education and career
Oettingen studied biology in Munich and subsequently worked at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Seewiesen, Germany, and at the Medical Research Council, Unit on the Development and Integration of Behaviour, Madingley, Cambridge, England. Simultaneously she did her PhD at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. She was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to conduct research at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA. She worked at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin while also gaining a Dr. habil. degree in psychology at the Free University Berlin. She accepted a professor of psychology position at University of Hamburg in 2000, and since 2002 is a professor of psychology at New York University. She lives in New York City and in Hamburg, Germany.
Oettingen has created various models of how people think about the future. She has investigated how cultural and political system factors influence optimistic thinking and behavior. She has distinguished between expectations of future success versus fantasies of future success and has found that these two forms of thinking about the future decisively differ in their impact on actual effort and success. Oettingen has developed fantasy realization theory (FRT), which is supported by her empirical evidence that mentally contrasting future and present reality most successfully evokes changes of cognition, emotion, and behavior, and that cognitive and motivational processes outside of awareness are responsible for these effects.
Based on a psychological principle called "mental contrasting" that involves mentally focusing on the contrast between the positive aspects of one's goals and the negative aspects of one's obstacles or current situation, Oettingen has created behavior change interventions, many of which integrate implementation intentions, a planning strategy suggested by Peter Gollwitzer. One such intervention is Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII), also known as WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan), a strategy that she claims people can use to find and fulfill their wishes and change their habits. Oettingen presents WOOP as a self-regulation tool meant to support people in effectively mastering their everyday life and long-term development, across domains such as career achievement, health, and interpersonal domains.
Oettingen's work is published in journals of social and personality psychology, developmental and educational psychology, in health and clinical psychology, in organizational and consumer psychology, as well as in neuropsychology and medical journals. Her research aims to contribute to the literature on life style change, education, and business.
Oettingen's first trade book, Rethinking Positive Thinking, was published in October 2014. In 2015, James C. Coyne attacked Oettingen's book Rethinking Positive Thinking and accused her of aggressively promoting pseudoscience while ignoring other research in clinical psychology. Coyne pointed out that as part of Oettingen's aggressive promotional campaign for her book, her own son created Wikipedia articles about her work.
- GROW model — a coaching model similar to Oettingen's WOOP model
- "Home page of Gabriele Oettingen". Department of Psychology, New York University. October 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "Home page of Gabriele Oettingen". Institut für Psychologie, Universität Hamburg. July 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Oettingen, Gabriele; Seligman, Martin EP (May 1990). "Pessimism and behavioural signs of depression in East versus West Berlin". European Journal of Social Psychology. 20 (3): 207–220. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2420200303.
- Oettingen, Gabriele; Sevincer, A Timur; Gollwitzer, Peter M (2008). "Goal pursuit in the context of culture". In Sorrentino, Richard M; Yamaguchi, Susumu. Handbook of motivation and cognition across cultures (PDF). San Diego, CA; London: Academic Press. pp. 191–211. ISBN 9780123736949. OCLC 225423112.
- Oettingen, Gabriele; Mayer, Doris (November 2002). "The motivating function of thinking about the future: expectations versus fantasies" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 83 (5): 1198–1212. doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1248.
- Oettingen, Gabriele; Stephens, Elizabeth J (2009). "Fantasies and motivationally intelligent goal setting" (PDF). In Moskowitz, Gordon B; Grant-Halvorson, Heidi. The psychology of goals. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 153–178. ISBN 9781606230299. OCLC 234434698.
- Handley, Ian M; Goss, R Justin (June 2012). "How mental simulations of the future and message-induced expectations influence purchasing goals". Psychology & Marketing. 29 (6): 401–410. doi:10.1002/mar.20529.
- Oettingen, Gabriele; Pak, Hyeon-ju; Schnetter, Karoline (May 2001). "Self-regulation of goal setting: turning free fantasies about the future into binding goals" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 80 (5): 736–753. doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1996.
- Amin, Amit (April 2013). "Mental contrasting: effectiveness, uses, and precautions". Happier Human. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Hawkins, James (February 2011). "Mental contrasting: a way to boost our commitment to goals we care about". Good Medicine. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Gollwitzer, Peter M (July 1999). "Implementation intentions: strong effects of simple plans" (PDF). American Psychologist. 54 (7): 493–503. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.54.7.493.
- "WOOP: a scientific strategy to find and fulfill wishes". Gabriele Oettingen. July 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Oettingen, Gabriele (27 October 2014). "Stop being so positive". Harvard Business Review blog. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "Gabriele Oettingen - Google Scholar Citations". Google Scholar. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
- Oettingen, Gabriele (2014). Rethinking positive thinking: inside the new science of motivation. New York: Current. ISBN 9781591846871. OCLC 881498635.
- Coyne, James C (16 September 2015). "Do positive fantasies prevent dieters from losing weight?". plos.org. PLOS. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
- Coyne, James C (23 September 2015). "Promoting a positive psychology self-help book with a Wikipedia entry". plos.org. PLOS. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.