Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII) is a self-regulation method shown to increase goal achievement through a combination of positive visualization and planning to overcome anticipated obstacles, specifically in time management, physical fitness, smoking cessation, dieting, social interaction, and classroom performance (Duckworth et al. 2013; Oettingen & Reininger 2016) Because second language (L2) acquisition is highly influenced by learner motivation, this study investigated whether MCII could be applied to motivation to acquire L2 vocabulary in beginning Arabic classes. A control group was compared to two treatment groups, one receiving vision-oriented MCII training that asked them to recall what first motivated them to begin language study when facing lack of motivation and a second receiving action-oriented MCII training encouraging participants to create an action-based plan when facing lack of motivation. Motivation levels of all participants were tracked through a survey of student motivation given at the beginning and end of the semester as well as through shortened weekly surveys tracking motivation level and L2 vocabulary acquisition over time. The results of this study showed that while there was no statistically significant motivational gain in any one group, there were several level items that revealed statistical significance within and between groups. No significant differences were found between groups in terms of motivation development, but raw averages of student motivation levels pre and post MCII training show that more participants in the vision-oriented groups saw motivational gains than those in the action-oriented group. Additionally, qualitative student comments revealed that many participants had failed to incorporate their MCII plans into their study regularly. This consequently may have limited the impact of MCII. Additional qualitative comments by students who did incorporate MCII suggest that they felt positively about MCII and believed it benefited their motivation and vocabulary acquisition. Consequently, additional research in which greater participation and more active use of MCII are promoted and qualitative data such as student journals and post interviews of students utilizing MCII are carefully analyzed is recommended. is recommended to further understand the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of MCII as applied to learner motivation level.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type





MCII, L2 acquisition, motivation, WOOP