Numbers and Units Affect Goal Pursuit Organization and Motivation
Goals are one of the most ubiquitous drivers of behavior. Despite the wealth of research on goal pursuit, less is known about how individuals organize their goal pursuit in the first place. This manuscript represents one of the first studies to provide insight into quantitative goal organization, proposing that the unit/numerical value in which a goal is described influences goal pursuit organization. Specifying a superordinate goal in units with larger numbers (e.g., studying for an exam for 120 minutes per week), rather than with smaller numbers (2 hours per week), leads to a goal pursuit structure that consists of more, but smaller subgoals. We also find that units with larger compared to smaller numbers tend to have a positive effect on goal motivation (i.e. more likely to start the goal earlier and to finish it). Finally, this positive effect on goal motivation is attenuated when consumers focus is on the number of subgoals left (rather than completed) while pursuing the overarching goal. We believe that changing units may be an easyto-implement nudge for anyone (e.g., marketers, managers, public policymakers, behavioral therapists, etc.) who wants to increase the likelihood that individuals use a particular goal pursuit structure.
|goals, subgoals, goal motivation, goal organization, framing effects, nudges, unit effects, unit type, numerosity, numerical cognition.|
|Journal of Consumer Psychology|
|Organisation||Department of Marketing Management|
Lembregts, C.J.P, & Pena-Marin, J. (2020). Numbers and Units Affect Goal Pursuit Organization and Motivation. Journal of Consumer Psychology. doi:10.1002/jcpy.1179