What is WOOP?

WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan.

It's a practical, accessible, evidence-based activity that helps students find and fulfill their wishes. In character development terms, WOOP builds self-control.


30 minutes

Getting started

  • Use the WOOP activity on yourself first to see how it works
  • Practice leading one or two other people through a WOOP with the WOOP script 
  • Share the Prep Activity with students to warm them up to their first WOOP
  • Lead the WOOP activity with your class

Watch the 1-minute overview

“After learning WOOP, students improved their grades, their on-time attendance, and their in-class behavior.”
— Gabriele Oettingen

View the full Playbook:

WOOP example.png

Use WOOP with your class

Download the full Playbook

View individual Playbook elements:

WOOP translations:

“The student buy-in was incredible—WOOP was something the students used throughout the year.”

Hear from researcher Gabriele Oettingen:

Gabriele Oettingen, Rethinking Positive Thinking, courtesy of DLD Women 2014

What's the science?

Developed by Professor Gabriele Oettingen at New York University, WOOP has more than 20 years of testing in classrooms, gyms, and health care settings. 

In schools, WOOP significantly improves effort, homework completion, attendance, and GPA. Outside of schools, WOOP has been shown to reduce stress, increase engagement, improve time management, and promote physical fitness.

About the researcher

Gabriele Oettingen is a professor of psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg. She is the author of more than 100 articles and book chapters on thinking about the future and the control of cognition, emotion, and behavior. She received her PhD from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Seewiesen, Germany.

Related Resources

Research articles

Mental contrasting changes the meaning of reality
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 797–810.
Kappes, A., Wendt, M., Reinelt, T., & Oettingen, G. (2013).
From fantasy to action: Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) improves academic performance in children
Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(6), 745–753.
Duckworth, A. L., Kirby, T., Gollwitzer, A., & Oettingen, G. (2013).

Problems with positive thinking and how to overcome them
Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (3rd ed., pp. 547-570). New York: Guilford. In K. D. Vohs & R. F. Baumeister (Eds.), 
Oettingen, G., & Cachia, J. Y. (2016). 

Using WOOP with your class?