Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Easy to visualize goal is powerful motivator to finish a race or a task

Date:
August 17, 2011
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Making goal attainment visual provides motivation for reaching abstract goals just as with physical destinations.

Whether it is a physical goal, such as the end of a race, or a virtual goal, such as saving, selling, or waiting for a download, "The easier a goal is to see, the closer it seems," says Rajesh Bagchi, assistant professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.
Credit: Virginia Tech Photo

Whether you are swimming in the Olympics or saving for a vacation, being able to see progress toward your goal will help you reach it. "The easier a goal is to see, the closer it seems," said Rajesh Bagchi, assistant professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.

Amar Cheema, associate professor of marketing with the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, and Bagchi studied the effect of goal visualization in abstract contexts and report that making goal attainment visual provides motivation for reaching abstract goals just as with physical destinations. The research appears in the March issue of the Journal of Marketing.

Being marketing professors, they suggest a scenario where salespeople are offered a trip to Hawaii if they achieve sales 20 percent above the annual target. If progress is reported visually by showing a bar filling, the sales staff will be more energized than if progress is reported numerically, as dollars or percent of sales.

"The same thing happens if you are saving for a vacation with a definite goal and you see an image of a piggy bank filling up, instead of the dollar total only," said Bagchi.

Cheema suggests that even drawing a graph representing your savings will provide motivation.

Cheema and Bagchi tested visualization with experiments requiring physical effort and experiments involving customers waiting for service and sales people completing deals.

The physical experiment conducted in the lab required individuals to sustain their grip for 130 seconds on a hand dynamometer, a gauge that records force exerted. Half of the subjects could see a bar on a computer screen fill as the 130 seconds passed. The other half saw a stopwatch; however, 130 seconds required 4.33 cycles of the watch hand, "so it was not so easy to visualize progress," said Bagchi.

"As individuals approached the goal, effort declined more steeply for participants who had the stopwatch image. While fatigue led to a decline in the force exerted over time, the decline was less steep for the people who could easily visualize the goal relative to those who could not," said Bagchi.

"Progress is important," said Cheema." When what is left to be filled in the bar is smaller than what has been filled, that is when the motivation happens."

The marketing experiments included the all-to-realistic likelihood of waiting for software support via a live chat with a technician. "Among participants near the goal, those in the easy-to-visualize condition (a filling bar vs. a countdown) are more likely to persist than those in the hard-to-visualize condition," said Bagchi. "More significantly, participants who are near the goal reported greater progress."

"This research provides one way to provide information about wait time that can reduce tension," said Bagchi.

In the final study, salespeople were told to finish selling to 20 clients as soon as possible. A second part of this study looked at the effect of setting subgoals. "Unpacking a goal into subgoals can make the tasks more manageable and may increase effort and performance," said Cheema. "On the other hand, subgoals may also shift motivational focus away from the main goal. We found this to be the case when distance to the goal is well-known and information is certain, such as in selling quickly to 20 clients."

The sales experiment once again demonstrated the motivational effect of goal visualization and proximity, where participants had a financial incentive to perform well, and demonstrated that a well-visualized abstract goal, such as making a sale, elicits commitment as if it were a physical goal.

"Our research results suggest that we process visual representations in a manner similar to distance, influencing perceptions of proximity and effort as we pursue everyday tasks or make decisions about investing time and effort for a particular outcome," said Bagchi.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Easy to visualize goal is powerful motivator to finish a race or a task." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815143935.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2011, August 17). Easy to visualize goal is powerful motivator to finish a race or a task. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815143935.htm
Virginia Tech. "Easy to visualize goal is powerful motivator to finish a race or a task." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815143935.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins