Nudging Persistence After Failure Through Emergency Reserves
57 Pages Posted: 18 May 2021
Date Written: May 16, 2021
Along the path of struggling to reach their personal and organizational long-term goals, the experience of an initial subgoal failure can lead individuals to feel less committed to their overall goal and even to give up entirely on reaching it. In one field study and three lab studies, we examine the ability of a cost-free nudge to decrease the detrimental impact of subgoal failure on goal attainment. More specifically, we demonstrate that framing goals with emergency reserves, a type of slack, can motivate individuals to persist after subgoal failures, leading to better performance on long-term goals, compared to objectively equivalent goals without slack. After failing to reach a subgoal, we found that individuals with goals framed with emergency reserves felt a greater sense of perceived progress, causing them to feel more committed to their goal, and thus increasing their likelihood of persisting at their goals.
Keywords: emergency reserve, nudge, goals, persistence, goal failure
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