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Background

History and Application of WOOP

 

“The solution isn’t to do away with dreaming and positive thinking. Rather, it’s making the most of our fantasies by brushing them up against the very thing most of us are taught to ignore or diminish: the obstacles that stand in our way.”

So often in our day-to-day lives we’re inundated with advice to “think positively.” From pop music to political speeches to commercials, the general message is the same: look on the bright side, be optimistic in the face of adversity, and focus on your dreams. And whether we’re trying to motivate ourselves to lose weight, snag a promotion at work, or run a marathon, we’re told time and time again that focusing on fulfilling our wishes will make them come true.

Gabriele Oettingen draws on more than twenty years of research in the science of human motivation to reveal why the conventional wisdom falls short. The obstacles that we think prevent us from realizing our deepest wishes can actually lead to their fulfillment. Starry- eyed dreaming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and as it turns out, dreamers are not often doers.

 
In her smart, lucid book, Dr. Oettingen critically reexamines positive thinking and gives readers a more nuanced—and useful—understanding of motivation based on solid empirical evidence
— Dr. Richard A. Friedman, The New York Times
How do you get from dreaming to doing? This exciting and important book shows you how to turn your dreams into reality. You’ll be surprised at how thoroughly it overturns conventional wisdom.
— Carol S. Dweck, Lewis & Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, and author of Mindset
Gabriele Oettingen presents a well-written thought-provoking evidence-based self-help book. Hers is an intriguing approach to overcoming life challenges at all ages. It is a worthy read.
— James Joseph Heckman, Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics
 

The Science behind WOOP

 

Based on twenty years of research in the science of motivation, WOOP presents a unique and surprising idea: The obstacles that we think most impede us from fulfilling our wishes can actually help us to realize them. WOOP instructs us to dream our future dreams but then to imagine what obstacles inside ourselves prevent us from achieving these dreams. In research studies, WOOP has helped people reduce stress and increase work engagement, find integrative solutions to problems, and improve time management. It has supported adults in losing weight, drinking less alcohol, and sustaining healthier relationships. Children and adolescents using WOOP improved school attendance as well as effort and achievement in school.

 

Selected Publications

Adriaanse, M. A., Oettingen, G., Gollwitzer, P. M., Hennes, E. P., de Ridder, D. T. D., & de Wit, J. B. F. (2010). When planning is not enough: Fighting unhealthy snacking habits by mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII). European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 1277-1293. doi:10.1002/ejsp.730 article

Adriaanse, M. A., De Ridder, D. T. D.,  & Voorneman, I. (2013). Improving diabetes self-management by mental contrasting. Psychology & Health, 28:1, 1-12 article 

Christiansen, S., Oettingen, G., Dahme, B., & Klinger, R. (2010). A short goal-pursuit intervention to improve physical capacity: A randomized clinical trial in chronic back pain patients. Pain, 149, 444-452. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2009.12.015 article

 
 

Selected Press