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Resting on Laurels: The Effects of Discrete Progress Markers as Subgoals on Task Performance and Preferences

51 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2006 Last revised: 6 May 2008

On Amir

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Abstract

This paper investigates the influence of progress certainty and discrete progress markers (DPMs) on performance and preferences. The authors suggest that the effects of DPMs depend on whether progress certainty is high or low. When the distance to the goal is uncertain, DPMs can help reduce uncertainty and thus improve performance and increase preference. However, when the distance to the goal is certain, DPMs may generate complacency, sway motivation away from the end goal, and decrease performance in the task, as well as its appeal. Therefore, the addition of more information, feedback, or progress indicators may not always improve task performance and preference for the task. The authors validate these claims in four experiments.

Keywords: progress information, effort, uncertainty, task partitioning, goals

JEL Classification: D8, J2, M5

Suggested Citation

Amir, On and Ariely, Dan, Resting on Laurels: The Effects of Discrete Progress Markers as Subgoals on Task Performance and Preferences. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=951144 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.951144

On Amir (Contact Author)

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

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States
858-534-2023 (Phone)
858-534-0745 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://management.ucsd.edu/faculty/directory/amir/

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
(919) 381-4366 (Phone)

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