The Effect of Goal Visualization on Goal Pursuit: Implications for Individuals and Managers
University of Virginia (UVA), McIntire School of Commerce
Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech
August 2, 2010
Journal of Marketing, Forthcoming
This research demonstrates that as individuals approach a goal, external representations which increase the ease of visualizing this goal enhance goal pursuit. Specifically, easy-to-visualize goals are judged to be closer than harder-to-visualize goals and consequently increase effort and commitment. Ease of visualization affects performance in 1500m Olympic and Sectional swimming competitions and the physical effort exerted in the lab. Visualization also affects commitment towards savings, willingness to wait for service, and performance in a simulated sales task. Importantly, the beneficial effects of visualization exist only when individuals are close to the goal. Furthermore, the effect of visualization is attenuated when the goal is split into subgoals. Managers can use these results to enhance consumer goal pursuit (for instance, for consumers who are trying to lose weight), influence consumer satisfaction in online service encounters (such as when consumers are waiting to be helped), and to motivate employees to improve performance. In these varied contexts, visual representations of goal progress (such as progress bars) are likely to enhance motivation as individuals approach their goal.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 53
Keywords: goal, motivation, visualization, goal-gradient, progress
JEL Classification: C91, C93, D81, M12, M31Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 1, 2011
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