Resting on Laurels: The Effects of Discrete Progress Markers as Subgoals on Task Performance and Preferences
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management
Duke University - Fuqua School of Business
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 51
Keywords: progress information, effort, uncertainty, task partitioning, goals
JEL Classification: D8, J2, M5
Date posted: December 12, 2006 ; Last revised: May 6, 2008