Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Social Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Roger Buehler

Advisor Role



Psychologists have studied extensively the consequences of planning for motivation and task performance, but little work has examined whether plan-making serves another function, that of helping us feel better about the yet-to-be completed task. In the present research, we examined whether making plans for completing a future task positively impacts feelings related to that task. In three studies, we tested the possibility that planning decreases negative emotions about the task planned for, and whether some types of planning are more beneficial for this than others. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were asked to nominate an important task they had yet to complete and that they had felt concerned about completing lately, and then instructed to either make a plan to complete the task using one of the specified planning types, or were not asked to make a plan. Participants then rated their feelings about the task on twenty emotions adjectives (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). In Study 3, participants were prompted to think about an upcoming exam, and then either (1) made a specific plan to prepare for it followed by giving affect ratings (experimental condition), or (2) rated their affect first and then made a specific plan (control condition). The results of Study 1 (N = 144) supported our hypothesis – following planning, mental simulation planners reported lower levels of negative affect than implementation intention planners and no plan controls. No differences were found for positive affect. These results were not replicated in Study 2 (N = 133) or Study 3 (N = 147), where feelings about the task did not differ depending on whether participants planned or not, or planning type. Overall, our findings did not yield consistent evidence that planning for an important future task has immediate affective benefits.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season