The Intention-Behavior Gap⁣

It’s common sense.⁣

If you want to achieve your goals or change your behavior, you need to actually have some desire and intent behind it.⁣

In fact, traditional psychological theories of goal achievement (e.g. control theory, social cognitive theory, and goal-setting theory) all consider “goal intentions” as a crucial component⁣

However it’s no secret that MANY people sayyy they want to do this or intend to do that…⁣

But never do.⁣

👉 Enter: the intention-behavior gap⁣


In correlational studies, the relationship between intention and achievement is very strong (Sheeran, 2002)⁣

But the issue with correlational (X is associated with Y).. is that underlying mechanisms and other variables are easily missed.⁣

This ^ is why experimental research is important.⁣

In a meta analysis of 47 experimental studies (8,802 participants) researchers found:⁣

A LARGE change in goal pursuit intentions = only a SMALL to MEDIUM change in goal achievement (Webb & Sheeran, 2006)⁣

Put simply ✏️ goal intentions are important for achievement, but typically aren’t enough.⁣


You might be thinking: “No shit. Just because I said I want to workout 4x per week, and truly wanted to… doesn’t mean I have been”⁣

Understanding this “gap” opens up opportunity to explore what options are available to “bridge” it.⁣


Psych research on how to bridge the gap between intention and behavior (and achieve goals) focuses on changing the content & structure of the goal setting ⤵️⁣

- Learning-based goals are better than performance-based goals (Dweck, 2000)⁣

- Instead of goals like “be healthier” get more specific, vague intentions = no bueno (Locke & Latham, 1990)⁣

- Focus mostly on smaller & immediate goals, rather than those that will take much longer (Bandura, 1991)⁣

...Much more, but per usual running out of room here lol⁣

I’ll be sharing more on this in coming posts - stay tuned 🤓⁣

& if you’re a coach looking to learn more about behavior change, make sure you’re signed up to receive primer education emails for the Health Mindset Coaching Certification program 



Check out the original post HERE.