The Struggle is Real: Motivating Goal Pursuit by Normalizing Difficulty

64 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2022

See all articles by Alexander Park

Alexander Park

Washington University in Saint Louis, John M. Olin Business School

Rachel Gershon

University of California San Diego, Rady School of Management

Marissa Sharif

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Date Written: June 9, 2022

Abstract

Consumers often use products, such as language learning apps or fitness trackers, to aid them in their goal pursuits. In long-term goal pursuit, setbacks and struggles are inevitable and may lead consumers to disengage from the goal and discontinue the use of goal-relevant products. How can marketers help struggling consumers re-engage with their goals? Across a field study and four preregistered experiments (N = 6,163), we find that when consumers struggle to achieve a goal, setting a norm that goal pursuit is often difficult improves motivation and leads to a greater likelihood of re-engaging with goal-relevant products. We further demonstrate that this increase in motivation is driven by perceived self-attainability – when consumers learn that many people find a goal difficult to achieve, they attribute their struggles to the goal pursuit process rather than their lack of ability, which increases their interest in goal re-engagement.

Keywords: goal pursuit, failure, motivation, norms, goal re-engagement

Suggested Citation

Park, Alexander and Gershon, Rachel and Sharif, Marissa, The Struggle is Real: Motivating Goal Pursuit by Normalizing Difficulty (June 9, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4132744 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4132744

Alexander Park (Contact Author)

Washington University in Saint Louis, John M. Olin Business School ( email )

Rachel Gershon

University of California San Diego, Rady School of Management ( email )

La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Marissa Sharif

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

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