Track 4: Goals & Motivation
Rima Toure-Tillery (Northwestern University)

4A. Goal Pursuit

Friday, March 4
9:30am – 11:00am EST
Discussant: Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota)
MC: Sarah Memmi (University of Louisville)
Calendar Invite: Add to calendar
Student Coordinator: Archer Pan (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

Do You Want to be Creative? Be Stupid First
Authors: Tatiana Karpukhina (WU Vienna), Martin Schreier (WU Vienna), Ayelet Fishbach (University of Chicago)
Presenting Author: Tatiana Karpukhina (WU Vienna)
Creativity is a quality valued and desired by most in personal and professional life, yet it is hard to achieve. Quite often, we find ourselves without inspiration, unable to come up with creative ideas. In this research, we test a technique allowing to boost situational creativity. We find that contrary to our common problem-solving intuition, starting an ideation process by generating “stupid” ideas first significantly increases creativity of the final ideas. We demonstrate that being “stupid” first breaks cognitive fixations, allowing to explore the solutions space more freely and reach more distant and novel ideas necessary for creativity.
Making Up for Failure: A Simple Nudge to Improve Goal Persistence
Authors: Shannon Duncan (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), Marissa Sharif (University of Pennsylvania)
Presenting Author: Shannon Duncan (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)
Small failures during goal pursuit are inevitable and can derail people from reaching their overall goals. We demonstrate that a simple, cost-free nudge, encouraging people to make up for their failures, can help alleviate the negative consequences of small failures, leading people to persist more towards their goals.
Time Reference Points in the Nonspecific Goal Pursuits
Authors: Almira Abilova (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Christophe Lembregts (Erasmus University)
Presenting Author: Almira Abilova (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
People frequently pursue goals that lack a specific outcome. Such nonspecific goals have been shown to have several advantages over specific goals. However, at more advanced stages of goal pursuit, people’s motivation drops as the distance from the only salient reference point – the initial state - increases. We investigate how to increase motivation in the advanced stages of nonspecific goal pursuits. In doing so, we examine the time within which the goal should be achieved. We show that motivation increases when attention is shifted from the elapsed time (after six weeks) to how much time remains (two weeks to go).
Work-to-Unlock Rewards: Leveraging Goals in Reward Systems to Increase Consumer Persistence
Authors: Marissa Sharif (University of Pennsylvania), Kaitlin Woolley (Cornell University)
Presenting Author: Marissa Sharif (University of Pennsylvania)
In six real behavior studies, we demonstrate that consumers persist more in goal-related activities when they need to “work-to-unlock” rewards – that is, when they receive continuous rewards only after first completing a few unrewarded goal-related actions compared to “work-to-receive” rewards– that is, when they receive continuous rewards after the first goal-related action completed. We suggest that work-to-unlock rewards encourage consumers to reach an earlier reference point and then leverage continuous rewards to encourage persistence once this initial target is reached.

Flash Talks

User-Generated Content on Social Media: Values from Goals
Authors: Nirajana Mishra (Boston University), Carey Morewedge (Boston University)
Presenting Author: Nirajana Mishra (Boston University)
Consumers invest tremendous time and labor in creating and curating user-generated content (UGC) on social media. However, an important question is whether they value the UGC on their social media platforms. This paper finds that consumers value the UGC they post on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram less than similar––and even identical–– physical and digital content that they archive on their phones, computers, and in the cloud. The value of UGC is contingent on the focal goal motivating its production and consumption. When the focal goal of the UGC is to share with others, as when posting to social media platforms, consumers care little about its value. When the focal goal of the UGC is to archive indexical connections, its value is substantial.
There is a Collector in Every Consumer
Authors: Ellen Evers (UC Berkeley), William Ryan (UC Berkeley Haas), Siegwart Lindenberg (Tilburg University)
Presenting Author: William Ryan (UC Berkeley Haas)
Collecting is a unique consumption behavior. Unlike other item’s consumption, where consumers buy a good to satisfy some higher need, collectors acquire products merely to possess them. This novel motivation makes collecting difficult to account for with existing theories, but past studies have primarily been qualitative studies focusing on small samples of “extreme” collectors. We investigate the characteristics and motivations of collectors in a representative nation-wide sample (N=5,069), finding that while a third of consumers collect, very few who do so identify strongly as collectors. Those who identify strongly as collectors significantly differ from most collectors, implying research focusing on those who strongly identify as collectors may not provide insights in collecting activity in general. Contrary to past work studying extreme collectors, collectors do not meaningfully differ from non-collectors in a variety of personality traits. What seems to drive the casual collector is gathering memories and aesthetically pleasing objects.


A Goal-Level View of Self- and Other-Benefit Message Persuasiveness
Authors: Olya BRYKSINA (The University of Winnipeg), Sara Penner (The University of Winnipeg)
Presenting Author: Olya BRYKSINA (The University of Winnipeg)
When it comes to designing health messages, which is more effective, the “don’t get it” or the “don’t spread it” approach? The current research examines the role of goal level (individual-level goal vs. group-level goal) in the differential persuasiveness of self- and other-benefit messages. The underlying role of perceived goal progress that would result from the actions advocated in the message is demonstrated via moderation and via statistical mediation analysis
No Goal-Gradient Effect for Group-Level Goals
Authors: Olya Bryksina (The University of Winnipeg)
Presenting Author: Olya Bryksina (The University of Winnipeg)
The goal-gradient effect is a well-accepted psychological phenomenon whereby individuals’ motivation for goal-consistent behavior increases as they approach goal attainment. This effect has predominantly been demonstrated in the context of individual-level goal pursuit. In the current research we show that group-level goals do not exhibit a goal-gradient effect. The mechanism that drives the goal-gradient for individual-level goals—as goal attainment nears every unit of progress covers a proportionally greater part of the remaining goal distance—which increases motivation, is offset by a greater expectation of free-riding with nearing goal attainment which decreases motivation.
The Role of Regulatory Focus on Consumer Response To Minimum Purchase Requirement (MinPR) Sales Promotion
Authors: Sitong Jiang (Durham University), Arezou Ghiassaleh (Durham University), Ji (Karena) Yan (Durham University)
Presenting Author: Sitong Jiang (Durham University)
Minimum Purchase Requirement (MinPR) deal is a form of sales promotion that asks consumers to meet a requirement to redeem a benefit, for example, “$10 off for every $50 spent”. This research examines how consumers’ regulatory focus influence their shopping behavior when they choose to use such deals. We conducted four studies and our findings show that promotion-focused consumers spend significantly more than prevention-focused consumers when they choose to use a MinPR deal, and the reason is the higher level of persuasion knowledge towards the deal that prevention-focused consumers hold. Moreover, our results show that a MinPR sales message with a social identity norm can reverse such effect for prevention-focused consumers. Our findings have important implications for marketing practitioners and retailers.
How Buying Aspirational Sizes Encourages Weight Loss
Authors: Nukhet Taylor (Ryerson University), Donya Shabgard (York University), Theodore Noseworthy (York University)
Presenting Author: Nukhet Taylor (Ryerson University)
Many consumers aspire to lose weight and fit into clothes in smaller sizes. Across a pilot study and two experiments, the current article shows that there may be a benefit to consumers purchasing clothes in sizes they aspire to reach (i.e., aspirational sizes). Specifically, we document that purchasing aspirational sizes increases weight loss motivation, and show that this effect is underscored by an increased ability to visualize the outcome of the weight loss goal.
When Brands Hurt Goals: How Active Goals and Incidental Brand Exposure Interact to Influence Goal-Directed Choices
Authors: Argiro Kliamenakis (University of Ottawa), Darlene Walsh (Concordia University)
Presenting Author: Argiro Kliamenakis (University of Ottawa)
Previous research shows that incidental brand exposure evokes behavioral responses congruent with the brand’s image, and that such exposures can be beneficial to goal attainment. However, little is known about whether this effect persists when consumers are already pursuing an active and related goal. The current research delineates choice outcomes of brand exposure under varying conditions of goal activation. In three studies, we show that when a goal is active, subsequent exposure to a goal-consistent brand decreases goal pursuit. This occurs because brand exposure following goal activation decreases perceived goal progress, which, due to its demotivating nature, decreases goal-consistent choices.
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