Gabriele Oettingen, PhD

New York University & University of Hamburg


Dr. Oettingen is one of the world’s most respected motivation scientists. Her research focuses on “prospection,” which is how people think about the future. In her studies, she addresses how different types of prospection affect people’s thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behavior. She has pointed out the perils of positive thinking and discovered a motivation technique called “mental contrasting”—which is an imagery-based self-regulation strategy that draws on nonconscious processes to help people master challenges in their everyday life and achieve long-term objectives. Dr. Oettingen has published in journals of social, personality, developmental, educational, health, clinical, organizational, and consumer psychology, as well as in neuropsychological and medical journals. Her work led to the creation of effective and easy-to-apply behavior change interventions, and she is the author or coauthor of several books in the area of behavior change.