Peter Gollwitzer

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Peter Max Gollwitzer (born 29 June 1950 in Nabburg) is a German professor of psychology in the Psychology Department at New York University. His research centers on how goals and plans affect cognition, emotion, and behavior.

Gollwitzer has developed several models of action control:[1][2][3] the symbolic self-completion theory (with Robert A. Wicklund);[4][5] the Rubicon Model of Action Phases (with Heinz Heckhausen);[6][7] the Auto-Motive Model of Automatic Goal Striving (with John A. Bargh);[8][9] the Mindset Theory of Action Phases (MAP);[10][11] and the distinction between action control by Goal Intentions vs. Implementation Intentions (i.e., if-then plans).[12][13][14]

Gollwitzer's experimental research based on these models delineates the various underlying psychological mechanisms of action control, and it distills the respective moderators. His recent research uses previous insights on action control by if-then planning to develop powerful time and cost effective behavior change interventions; this work is rooted in the mental contrasting theory of goal pursuit as proposed by Gabriele Oettingen.[15][16][17]

Prior to coming to NYU in 1999, Gollwitzer held the following positions: assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, (1982-1983); junior researcher, Max-Planck-Institute for Psychological Research, Munich (1984-1988); and senior researcher, Max-Planck-Institute for Psychological Research (Coordinator of the Intention & Action Group), Munich (1989-1992). In 1993 he became the chair of the social psychology and motivation unit at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

Gollwitzer received his bachelor's degree from Universität Regensburg (1973), a master's degree from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (1977), a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin (1981), and a Dr. habil. degree from Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (1987).

Gollwitzer is a Fellow of Academia Europaea and of the American Psychological Association as well as a Charter Fellow of the American Psychological Society. He has won a Max Planck Research Award (1990) and a TransCoop Award (1994), which is given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

He is married to a fellow NYU professor, Princess Gabriele of Oettingen-Oettingen and Oettingen-Spielberg.[18][19]


  1. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M., & Bargh, J. A. (Eds.). (1996). The psychology of action: Linking cognition and motivation to behavior. New York: Guilford Press.
  2. ^ Morsella, E., Bargh, J. A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (Eds.). (2009). Oxford Handbook of human action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Seebass, G., Schmitz, M., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (Eds.). (2013). Acting intentionally and its limits: Individuals, groups, institutions. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  4. ^ Wicklund, R. A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (1982). Symbolic self-completion. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  5. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M., Sheeran, P., Michalski, V., & Seifert, A. E. (2009). When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap? Psychological Science, 20, 612-618.
  6. ^ Heckhausen, H., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Weinert, F. E. (Hrsg.).(1987). Jenseits des Rubikon: Der Wille in den Humanwissenschaften. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
  7. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M., Heckhausen, H., & Ratajczak, H. (1990). From weighing to willing: Approaching a change decision through pre- or postdecisional mentation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 45, 41-65.
  8. ^ Bargh, J. A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (1994). Environmental control of goal-directed behavior. In W. Spaulding (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (Vol. 41, pp.71-124). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
  9. ^ Bargh, J. A., Gollwitzer, P. M., Chai, A. L., Barndollar, K., & Troetschel, R. (2001). Automated will: Nonconscious activation and pursuit of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1014-1027.
  10. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M. (1990). Action phases and mind-sets. In E. T. Higgins & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), The handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behavior (Vol. 2, pp. 53-92). New York: Guilford Press.
  11. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M. (2012). Mindset theory of action phases. In P. Van Lange, A.W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology. (Vol. 1, pp. 526-545). London: Sage Publications.
  12. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493-503.
  13. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Implementation intentions and goal achievement: A meta-analysis of effects and processes. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 69-119).
  14. ^ Gollwitzer, P. M., Sheeran, P., Trötschel, R., & Webb, T. (2011). Self-regulation of behavioral priming effects. Psychological Science, 22, 901-907.
  15. ^ Stadler, G., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2010). Intervention effects of information and self-regulation on eating fruits and vegetables over two years. Health Psychology, 29, 274-283.
  16. ^ Duckworth, A. L., Grant, H., Loew, B., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2011). Self-regulation strategies improve self-discipline in adolescents: Benefits of mental contrasting and implementation intentions. Educational Psychology, 31, 17-26.
  17. ^ Oettingen, G., Wittchen, M., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2013) Regulating goal pursuit through mental contrasting with implementation intentions. In A. E. Locke & G. Latham (Eds.), New developments in goal setting and task performance (pp. 523-565). New York, NY: Routledge.
  18. ^ Dean, Ben (23 January 2015). "Interview with Gabriele Oettingen, PhD". Mentor Coach. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  19. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Gabriele Elisabeth Aloisia Notgera Prinzessin zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Oettingen-Spielberg". The Peerage. Retrieved 27 November 2018.

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