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WOOP is a practical, accessible, evidence-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes and change their habits.


Over twenty years of research shows that WOOP works. Known scientifically as Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions, the approach has proven effective across ages and areas of life, helping people achieve goals dealing with health, interpersonal relations, and academics/career. 




  • WOOP helped study participants double the amount of regular physical exercise they performed over a four-month period. It also helped study participants increase fruit and vegetable intake by 30% over a two year period. — Stadler, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2009, 2010

  • WOOP helped chronic pain patients become more physically active during rehabilitation and for three months after. — Christiansen, Oettingen, Dahme, & Klinger, 2010

  • WOOP helped patients suffering from Type II Diabetes improve their self-care. — Adriaanse, De Ridder, & Voorneman, 2013

  • WOOP is a useful strategy to facilitate target tracking for depression and may be a useful adjunct to interventions aimed at behavioral activation. — Fritzsche, Schlier, Oettingen, & Lincoln, 2016

  • The WOOP strategy increased the physical activity and weight loss of stroke patients over the course of a year. — Marquardt, Oettingen, Gollwitzer, Sheeran, & Liepert, 2017

Interpersonal Relations


  • WOOP helped study participants increase tolerance and social responsibility towards members of prejudiced groups. — Oettingen, Mayer, Thorpe, Janetzke, & Lorenz, 2005

  • WOOP helped study participants reduce insecurity-based behaviors (e.g., looking through the partner’s phone log) and increase their commitment to romantic relationships. — Houssais, Oettingen, & Mayer, 2013

  • WOOP led study participants to create more integrative solutions and engage in fairer behavior in bargaining games. — Kirk, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2013

  • In six experimental studies, the self-regulation strategy of mental contrasting attenuated the negative emotions elicited by positive fantasies about a lost counterfactual past, specifically, disappointment, regret and resentment. — Krott & Oettingen, 2018




  • WOOP increased high school students’ efforts to prepare for standardized tests by 60%. — Duckworth, Grant, Loew, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2011

  • WOOP increased the attendance and course grades of disadvantaged school children. — Duckworth, Kirby, A. Gollwitzer, & Oettingen, 2013

  • WOOP improved the homework of children at risk for ADHD. — Gawrilow, Morgenroth, Schultz, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2013

  • Participants who completed a short WOOP exercise on a major academic issue invested about twice as many hours in scheduling as participants in the control group. — Oettingen, Kappes, Guttenberg, & Gollwitzer, 2015

  • WOOP has significantly enhanced targeted learning among prospective anesthetists and may be a useful strategy for increasing self-directed learning. — Saddawi-Konefka, Baker, Guarino, Burns, Oettingen, Gollwitzer, & Charnin, 2017