Researchers from the Department of Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec tested the idea that adding targeted mental imagery to a behavioral change program with the goal of eating more fruit would increase the probability of subjects following through on their goals.

One hundred seventy-seven residents of a student residence were assigned the goal of consuming extra portions of fruit every day for 7 days.  They were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) control (active rehearsal),  (2) planning of intentions, (3) mental imagery or (4) mental imagery targeted to the plan.

Among low fruit consumers, but not high fruit consumers, fruit consumption at follow-up was higher in the targeted mental imagery group than in the other group, with the lowest fruit consumption in the control group. The findings suggest that it may be beneficial to use targeted mental imagery when forming implementation intentions.

Citation:  Knauper B, McCollam A, Rosen-Brown A, Lacaille J, Kelso E, Roseman M. Fruitful plans: Adding targeted mental imagery to implementation intentions increases fruit consumption. Psychology and Health. 2011 Feb 18:1-17. [Epub ahead of print]