Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Reed College of Media


Reed College of Media

Committee Chair

Melanie Booth-Butterfield

Committee Co-Chair

Rebecca M Chory

Committee Member

Matthew M Martin

Committee Member

Christine E. Rittenour

Committee Member

Richard T. Walls.


This study addressed the effects of two specific types of planning (i.e., goal intention and implementation intention formation) on interpersonal discussions of difficult topics (e.g., discussing the future of a relationship, discussing past romantic partners, discussing the current status of a relationship). Goal intentions specify a certain end point (e.g., "I intend to reach x"), and implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, 1999) specify when, where, and how a goal will be achieved (e.g., "If x, then y"). In addition, four personality traits (i.e., need for cognition, cognitive flexibility, self-efficacy, and trait dyadic communication apprehension) were examined in order to further understand the role of these traits in impacting planning and state anxiety, self-perceived communication effectiveness, message length, and motivation. Using Berger's (1995a, 1997) Planning Theory as a guiding framework, this post-test only equivalent groups experimental design evaluated differences in state anxiety, self-perceived communication effectiveness, message length, and motivation among three conditions: implementation intention formation (n = 60), goal intention formation (n = 64), and a control group (n = 58). In Time 1, participants reported on a range of difficult topics that they perceived to be both anxiety-provoking and important. After this, each group was given an experimental manipulation, in which participants were guided through the formation of an implementation intention or a goal. The control group was a no message control group. In Time 2, which took place two weeks later, participants were asked to audio-record a message in which they talked about the difficult topic they reported on in Time 1. Results revealed that planning did not impact state anxiety, self-perceived communication effectiveness, or motivation. Individuals in the goal formation group formed messages with fewer words than did individuals in the control group. Self-efficacy interacted with the goal formation condition to impact message length, such that individuals with high self-efficacy recorded shorter messages than those in the control group. Taken together, it appears that planning had minimal impact on state anxiety associated with the discussion of difficult topics in interpersonal relationships.