Craig A. Anderson (1983), “Imagination and expectation: the effect of imagining behavioral scripts on personal intentions,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 293-305.
This paper, which reports on two experiments, may be important for those who use scenarios. The subjects in these experiments (114 college students) were asked to prepare behavioral scenarios by drawing cartoons relating to six types of behavior: blood donation, tutoring, taking a new part time job, running for student-government office, changing academic major and taking a trip over spring break. The main hypothesis was that scenarios where the subject is the main character
would lead the subject to change behavioral intentions. Increased intentions were expected for scenarios where the self as main-character performed the behavior, decreased intentions if the self-as-main character did not perform the behavior. (This hypothesis draws upon the prior research on ‘availability.’) Also, the more often the subject imagined the behavior, the greater the change in intentions. These hypotheses were supported, and the study did a convincing job of ruling out competing hypotheses. The second experiment replicated the basic findings and found that the changes persisted over a 3-day period. Some questions remain unanswered. Would the changes in intentions lead to changes in behavior? Could these results be applied to a business executive writing scenarios about possible strategic actions he or she might take for the organization? This is a well-designed study on an important topic, and it is clearly written.