How Goal Specificity Shapes Motivation: A Reference Points Perspective

We propose that goal specificity alters what reference point consumers spontaneously adopt during goal pursuit: for specific goals, the end state tends to be more salient, but for nonspecific goals, the initial state should be more salient

Scott G Wallace; Jordan Etkin

2017

Scholarcy highlights

  • Consumers often pursue goals that lack specific end states, such as goals to lose as much weight as possible or to pay off as much debt as possible
  • We propose that goal specificity alters what reference point consumers spontaneously adopt during goal pursuit: for specific goals, the end state tends to be more salient, but for nonspecific goals, the initial state should be more salient
  • Our findings advance understanding of the relationship between goal specificity, goal progress, and motivation, and in doing so, underscore the critical role that reference points play in goal-directed behavior
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