Anticipated Temporal Landmarks Undermine Motivation for Continued Goal Pursuit
Koo, M., Dai, H., Mai, K.M., & Song, C.E. Anticipated temporal landmarks undermine motivation for continued goal pursuit. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. (four authors contributed equally) (Forthcoming)
67 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 6, 2020
Temporal landmarks, especially those that signal new beginnings, have been shown to spur goal initiation. We draw attention to a dark side of temporal landmarks by examining the effects of anticipated temporal landmarks on motivation to persist in an ongoing goal. Across an archival study and four experiments, we find that when an upcoming temporal landmark becomes salient and signals a new beginning, individuals perceive their current and future selves as two separate agents and optimistically believe that their future self will take the responsibility, which licenses them to exert less effort toward their ongoing goals in the present. However, individuals who reduce effort in anticipation of a temporal landmark may not work harder to compensate for the lost progress after the landmark. This detrimental effect of anticipated temporal landmarks is mitigated when individuals are reminded of everyday activities they consistently do to meet their goal.
Keywords: temporal landmark, goal pursuit, current self, future self, optimistic belief, responsibility shift
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