Peter M. Gollwitzer is a Guest Professor of Psychology at Leuphana University and a Professor of Psychology at New York University. He is also a Professor i.R. of Psychology at the University of Konstanz. Dr. Gollwitzer’s research concerns the question of how goals and plans affect cognition, emotion, and behavior. It spans various domains in psychology: social psychology, cognition and perception, neuropsychology, motivation science, health psychology, education psychology, and industrial and organizational psychology. Dr. Gollwitzer has developed a number of models of action control: The theory of symbolic self-completion (with Robert A. Wicklund), the Rubicon model of action phases (with Heinz Heckhausen), the auto-motive model of automatic goal striving (with John A. Bargh), the mindset model of action phases, and the theory of action control by implementation intentions. In these theories, the underlying mechanisms of effective action control are delineated, and respective moderators are distilled.
Dr. Gollwitzer has been awarded the Max Planck Research Award and the TRANSCOOP award for international research collaboration. He has been selected as a member into the Academia Europaea, and he has become a fellow of the American Psychological Association as well as the Association for Psychological Science. Dr. Gollwitzer is also a selected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina—the oldest continuously existing academy of science in the world. The Academy selects its members among outstanding scientists from all over the world. Moreover, in 2019 he received the Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award from the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the American Psychological Foundation (APF).
Dr. Gollwitzer has written more than 250 articles in different areas of psychology: social psychology, cognition and perception, neuropsychology, health psychology, educational psychology, behavior change, and work and organizational psychology. He is one of the world’s leading researchers on motivation and goal attainment



Self-regulation of goal pursuit
•    Mindsets: Various modes of information processing at different phases of goal pursuit.
•    Risk perception at different phases of goal pursuit.
•    Implementation intentions (if-then plans) vs. goal intentions: Differential effects on cognition, affect, and  behavior.
•    Conscious vs. non-conscious goal pursuit.
•    The role of affect in goal pursuit.
•    Determinants of the speed of goal pursuit.
•    Flexibility/rigidity in goal pursuit.
•    Goal pursuit under adverse contextual influences (e.g., stress).
•    Goal pursuit in clinical samples.
•    Planning to think: The self-regulation of making wise decisions.
•    Behavior change interventions based on the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting with  implementation intention (MCII).

Self and identity
•    Symbolic self-completion: Striving for identity goals by self-symbolizing.
•    Social reality of self-symbolizing: Effects of public recognition of identity symbols.
•    Social interaction: Interpersonal insensitivity as a consequence of self-symbolizing.
•    Identity goal conflicts.
•    Moral identity goals.
•    A life-span perspective on the willful pursuit of identity.
•    Moral insensitivity while striving for identity goals.
•    Self-affirmation vs. self-completion.

•    Cross-cultural differences in the emotions of fear, disgust, and envy.
•    The self-regulation of negative emotions: anger, fear, disgust, envy, and sadness.

1972            B.A., Universitaet Regensburg, Economics of Education
1973            B.A., Universitaet Regensburg, Psychology
1977            M.A., Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, Psychology
1981            Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, Psychology; Minor: Statistics
1987            Habilitation, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Psychology

1982-1983    Research Associate, Department of Psychology, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, Bochum
1984-1988    Junior Researcher, Max-Planck-Institute for Psychological Research, Munich
1989-1992    Senior Researcher, Max-Planck-Institute for Psychological Research: Head of the Intention & Action Group, Munich
1993-present    Professor, Social Psychology and Motivation, University of Konstanz, Professor i.R. since 2017
1999-present    Professor, Social Psychology, New York University
2019-present    Guest Professor, Motivation and General Psychology, Leuphana University

PROJECTS (ongoing)
2020 – 2023        The Effects of Envy on Joint Decision Making
Gollwitzer, P. M., Zhang, H., & Trötschel, R., funded by the Leuphana University Lüneburg

2019 – 2023        Affective Influences on Goal Pursuit
Gollwitzer, P. M., Gendolla, G., & Oettingen, G., funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation

2019 – 2022    Identity Goal Systems: Aspired-to Selves in Interaction and Context
Gollwitzer, P. M. & Doerfinger J. T., funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

2019-2021        Goal Striving
Gollwitzer, P. M., funded by the University of Konstanz

2019-2022        Motivational Preparedness Factors of Risk Perceptions, Risk Taking, and Coping through Self-regulation
Gollwitzer, P. M. & Keller, L., funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)


Books and Edited Volumes

Oettingen, G., Sevincer, A. T., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (Eds.) (2018). The psychology of thinking about the future. New York: Guilford.

Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (Eds.) (2015). Self-regulation in adolescence. New York: Cambridge Press.

Seebaß, G., Schmitz, M., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (Eds.). (2013). Acting intentionally and its limits: Individuals, groups, institutions. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Morsella, E., Bargh, J. A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (Eds.). (2009). Oxford handbook of human action. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gollwitzer, P. M., & Bargh, J. A. (Eds.) (1996). The psychology of action: Linking cognition and motivation to behavior. New York: Guilford Press.

Wicklund, R. A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (1982). Symbolic self-completion. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Journal Contributions

Bieleke, M., Keller, L. & Gollwitzer, P. M. (in press). If-then planning. European Review of Social Psychology.

Büchele, N., Keller, L., Zeller, A. C., Schrietter, F., Treiber, J., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Odenwald, M. (in press). The effects of pre-intervention mindset induction on a brief intervention to increase risk perception and reduce alcohol use among university students: A pilot randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE.

Martiny-Huenger, T., Bieleke, M., Doerflinger, J., Stephensen, M. & Gollwitzer, P. M. (in press). Deliberation decreases the likelihood of expressing dominant responses. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Bieleke, M., Dohmen, D., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). Effects of social value orientation (SVO) and decision mode on controlled information acquisition—a Mouselab perspective. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Doerflinger, J. T., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). Emotion emphasis effects in moral judgment are moderated by mindsets. Motivation & Emotion.

Gantman, A. P., Sternisko, A., Gollwitzer, P. M., Oettingen, G., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2020). Allocating moral responsibility to multiple agents. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Mutter, E. R., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). An online randomised controlled trial of mental contrasting with implementation intentions as a smoking behaviour change intervention. Psychology & Health, 35, 318-345.

Szymczak, H., Keller, L., Debbeler, L. J., Kollmann, J., Lages, N. C., Gollwitzer, P. M., Schupp, H. T., & Renner, B. (2020). An increase in vigorous but not moderate physical activity makes people feel they have changed their behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 11:1530.

Thürmer, J. L., Bieleke, M., Wieber, F., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). If-then plans help regulate automatic peer influence on impulse buying. European Journal of Marketing.

Underberg, J., Gollwitzer, A., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). The best words: Linguistic indicators of grandiose narcissism in politics. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 39, 271-281.

Valshtein, T. J., Mutter, E. R., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). Relatedness needs and negative fantasies as the origins of obsessive thinking in romantic relationships. Motivation and Emotion, 44, 226-243

Valshtein, T. J., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2020). Using Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII) to reduce bedtime procrastination: Two randomised trials. Psychology & Health, 35, 275-301.

Lalot, F., Quiamzade, A., Falomir-Pichastor, J. M., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2019). When does self-identity predict intention to act green? A self-completion account relying on past behaviour and majority-minority support for pro-environmental values. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 61, 79-92.

Wittleder, S., Kappes, A., Oettingen, G., Gollwitzer, P. M., Melanie, J., & Morgenstern, J. (2019). Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) reduces drinking when drinking is hazardous: An online self-regulation intervention. Health Education & Behavior, 46, 666-676.

Contributions to Edited Volumes

Keller, L., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Sheeran, P. (2020). Changing behavior using the model of action phases (In M. S. Hagger, L. D. Cameron, K. Hamilton, N. Hankonen, & T. Lintunen (Eds.), Handbook of behavior change (pp. 77-88). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2019). Implementation intentions. In M. D. Gellman & I. R. Turner (Eds.), Encyclopediaof behavioral medicine. Chapter No.: 1710-4.

Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2019). Goal attainment. In R. M. Ryan (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of human motivation (2nd ed., pp. 247-268). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Keller, L., Bieleke, M., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2019). Mindset theory of action phases and if-then planning. In K. Sassenberg & M. L. W. Vleik (Eds.), Social psychology in action (pp. 23-37). Springer, Cham.

Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2019). From feeling good to doing good. In J. Gruber (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of positive emotion and psychopathology (pp. 596-611). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Achtziger, A. & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2018). Motivation und Volition im Handlungsverlauf. In J. Heckhausen & H. Heckhausen (Hrsg.), Motivation und Handeln (S. 355-388). Berlin: Springer.

Achtziger, A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2018). Motivation and volition in the course of action. In J. Heckhausen & H. Heckhausen (Eds.), Motivation and action (pp. 485-527). Springer, Cham.

Cimpian, A., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2018). Intuition. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gantman, A. P., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2018). When consciousness needs to explain unconsciously activated behavior. In N. Baumann, M. Kazén, M. Quirin, & S. L. Koole (Eds.), Why people do the things they do (pp. 105-113). Boston, MA: Hogrefe Publishing.

Gollwitzer, P. M., & Crosby, C. (2018). Planning out future action, affect, and cognition. In G. Oettingen, A. T. Sevincer, & P. M. Gollwitzer (Eds.), The psychology of thinking about the future (pp. 335-361). New York: Guilford.

Oettingen, G, & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2018). Health behavior change by self-regulation of goal pursuit. In D. de Ridder, M. Adriaanse, & K. Fujita (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of self-control in health and well-being (pp. 418-430). New York: Routledge.

Sheeran, P., Webb, T. L., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Oettingen, G. (2018). Self-regulation of affect-health behavior relations. In Williams, D. M., Rhodes, R. E., & Conner, M. T. (Eds.), Affective determinants of health-related behaviors (pp. 90-114). New York: Oxford University Press.

Further information in the database (FOX)




Awards and Honors

1990            Max Planck Research Award

1994            TRANSCOOP Award

1996            Elected Member, Academia Europaea

1998            Charter Fellow of the American Psychological Society

2002            Fellow, American Psychological Association

2015-2018        President, Society for the Study of Motivation

2017            Elected Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

2018        Honorary Doctorate awarded from the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany

2019    Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award

Activities ( selected)

2019    Symposium on “Future Thought in Context” at the 31st APS Annual Convention, Washington
Gollwitzer, P. M. (Co-Chair), Oettingen, G. (Co-Chair)

2019    Symposium on “Drowning in the Rubicon: Current findings on Action Crises and Goal Disengagement” at the 31st APS Annual Convention, Washington Gollwitzer, P. M. (Discussant)

2019    “The goal concept.” Keynote Lecture at the International Summer School on Motivation Science, Konstanz, Germany Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker)

2019    “A goal perspective on behavior change.” Keynote Lecture at the 20th Anniversary Conference of Social Psychology and Community Psychology in Tromsø, Norway Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker)

2019    “Self completion research: A goal perspective on identity.” Keynote Lecture at the International Conference on “Beyond identity: New avenues for interdisciplinary research on identity,” organized by the Academia Europaea (European Academy of Science), Wroclaw, Poland Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker)

2019    “The role of the goal concept in motivation science.” Keynote Lecture at the XVI European Congress of Psychology, Moscow, Russia Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker)

2018    Professional development session, “Academic Leadership: Yes you can! Yes you should!” at the SPSP Annual Convention, Atlanta  Gollwitzer, P. M. (Co-Chair)

2018    “The psychology of thinking about the future.” Invited Book Presentation at NYU Berlin, Germany
Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker), Oettingen, G. (Speaker), Sevincer T. (Speaker)

2018    “If-then planned deliberation facilitates disengagement from failing courses of action.” Invited Talk at the Annual Convention of the Association of Psychological Science, San Francisco  Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker), Doerflinger, J. (Speaker)

2018    “In search for moderators of primed goal pursuit – Outcome desirability.” Invited Talk at the Annual Convention of the Association of Psychological Science, San Francisco Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker), Oettingen, G. (Speaker), Keller, L. (Speaker)

2018    “The influence of mindsets on risk perception and risk-taking behavior.” Invited Talk at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Science of Motivation, San Francisco Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker), Keller, L. (Speaker)

2018    “Effective intentional control of one’s health behavior.” Invited Lecture at the Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker)

2018    “If-then planning and goal attainment.” Keynote Address at the Annual Retreat of the Learning, Educational Achievement, and Life Course Development (LEAD) Graduate School at the University of Tuebingen, Germany Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker)

2018    “Planning out goal attainment.” Invited Public Lecture at the Behavioral Science Hub of the London School of Economics, London, UK Gollwitzer, P. M. (Speaker)

Press/Media ( selected)

Implementation Intentions (If-then Plans)

•    The ‘If-Then’ Rule Can Triple Your Chances of Career Success, August 2, 2020. Forbes.

•    How Five Short Intentions Can Help People Recovering from Depression and Stay on Track, January 21, 2020. The Conversation.

•    A Science-backed Strategy for Forming New Habits, January 6, 2020. Thrive Global.

•    Your New Year’s Resolutions Will Fail (Again) - Unless You Do This. November 18, 2014. Forbes.

Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII)

•    Two Techniques for Helping Employees Change Ingrained Habits. March 28, 2018. Harvard Business Review.

•    The Motivational One-Two Punch for Overcoming Bad Habits. March 23, 2010. Psychology Today.

Goal Pursuit

•    The First Rule for Accomplishing Goals? Don’t Tell Anyone about Them, March 11, 2020. The Great Courses Daily.

•    Eight Ways to Curb your Procrastination. August 8, 2019. BBC.

•    Shh! Keep Your Big Goals to Yourself. March 27, 2019. Entrepreneur.

•    How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions, According to the Experts. January 9, 2019. BBC.

•    Research Reveals That Publicly Announcing Your Goals Makes You Less Likely to Achieve Them. August 8, 2017. Inc.


•    How to Use “WOOP” to Make Your Wishes Come True? December 15, 2019. Inverse.

•    A Psychology Professor Reveals How to Break Bad Habits Once and for All, January 26, 2017. Fortune.

Mental Fantasies

•    New Study Indicates that Thwarted Emotional Connectedness and Mental Fantasies Could Lead to Stalking, July 26, 2020. PsyPost.