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Making The Most Of It: Study Reveals Motivating Factor For Enjoying The Present

Date:
January 13, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
It is common knowledge that when something becomes scarce, its value goes up. This concept does not just apply to material goods -- time can be an extremely valuable commodity, especially when it is in short supply. According to a new study, thinking that we have a limited amount of time remaining to participate in an activity makes us appreciate the activity that much more and motivates us to make the most of it.

It is common knowledge that when something becomes scarce, its value goes up. This concept does not just apply to material goods—time can be an extremely valuable commodity, especially when it is in short supply. According to a new study, thinking that we have a limited amount of time remaining to participate in an activity makes us appreciate the activity that much more and motivates us to make the most of it.

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Psychologist Jaime L. Kurtz from Pomona College investigated how our behavior and attitude towards an activity change when there is a limited amount of time remaining to engage in it. A group of college seniors participated in this study, which occurred 6 weeks prior to graduation. Every day for two weeks, the students were to write about their college experiences, including the activities they participated in. The experiment was designed so that some of the students were to think about graduation as a far-off event and some students were told to think about graduation as occurring very soon.

The results, reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that the students' behavior was influenced by how the graduation deadline was framed (that is, whether graduation was occurring shortly or in the future).

It turns out that the students who thought of graduation as occurring very soon reported participating in more college-related activities compared to the students who thought of graduation as a far-off event. Kurtz surmises that when faced with the imminent end of college, students were more motivated to take advantage of the time they had left in school and participate in as many events as possible—the students realized it would be their last chance to engage in college-related activities.

Kurtz notes that although it may seem counterintuitive, these findings support the idea that "thinking about an experience's future ending can enhance one's present experience of it". In addition, Kurtz suggests that "focusing on the fact the experiences like these are fleeting enhances enjoyment by creating a 'now or never' type of motivation".


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jaime L. Kurtz. Looking to the Future to Appreciate the Present: The Benefits of Perceived Temporal Scarcity. Psychological Science, 2008; 19 (12): 1238 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02231.x

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Making The Most Of It: Study Reveals Motivating Factor For Enjoying The Present." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112110104.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, January 13). Making The Most Of It: Study Reveals Motivating Factor For Enjoying The Present. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112110104.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Making The Most Of It: Study Reveals Motivating Factor For Enjoying The Present." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112110104.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

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