Anderson, C. A. (1983).

Imagination and expectation: The effect of imagining behavioral scripts on personal intentions.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 293-305.


The effects of imagining behavioral scripts on personal intentions were investigated in two experiments. Subjects imagined either themselves, a friend, or a disliked acquaintance performing or not performing a series of target behaviors. Subjects also sketched these behavioral scenarios in cartoon-panel form. Intention changes were assessed in a pre-post design. Experiment 1 demonstrated that (a) imagining oneself performing (or not performing) a target behavior produces corresponding changes in intentions towards that behavior; (b) the more frequently one imagines oneself in a behavioral script, the more intention change is produced; (c) such changes in personal intentions do not occur when the main character of the script is not oneself. Experiment 2 replicated the basic effect and demonstrated that the intention changes persist over at least a 3-day period. These effects are discussed in terms of judgmental heuristics uses to assess intentions and in terms of Abelson's script theory. Alternative explanations are considered and rejected on the basis of supplementary data. The relations between the present findings and research on memory for self and other images, on self-erasing prediction errors, and on several therapeutic phenomena are also discussed.

©1983 by the American Psychological Association.

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