Posted on Jan 13, 2012, 6 a.m.
Enlisting a friend can significantly improve a person’s chances of achieving goals in life.
Specific plans regarding when, where and how a person will act are referred to as ‘implementation intentions,’ and psychologists have established that such planned goals can be very effective on their own. However, Mark Conner from the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), and colleagues report that enlisting a friend can significantly improve a person’s chances of achieving goals in life. The team worked with employees from 15 councils who volunteered to participate in two studies attempting to increase their levels of exercise or improve their diet. Some employees were just left to do it on their own; others were asked to recruit a partner. A third group were encouraged to develop 'if...then...' plans, and a fourth group was told to makes these 'if...then' plans with a partner. At follow-up times at 1, 3, and 6 months, it was clear that working together and joint planning helped significantly, and “the involvement of a partner in planning had a sustained effect that was still noticeable after six months."
Conner M, Prestwich A, Lawton R. “Testing the efficacy and mechanisms of collaborative implementation intentions” [RES-062-23-0533]. Economic and Social Research Council, 2011.