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When thinking about goals undermines goal pursuit


  • Fishbach, Ayelet
  • Choi, Jinhee


We explore how attending to the goals an activity achieves (i.e., its instrumentality) impacts the motivation to pursue the activity. We propose that the focus on the activity’s instrumentality renders the activity more valuable yet its experience less positive. Because experience is mainly salient while pursuing (vs. planning) an activity, attending to the activity’s instrumentality increases the intention to pursue the activity but decreases how persistently individuals pursue it. We document this impact of attending to goals on increased intentions but decreased persistence on various activities, from a exercising on a treadmill (Study 1) and creating origami (Study 2) to dental flossing (Study 3) and practicing yoga (Study 4).

Suggested Citation

  • Fishbach, Ayelet & Choi, Jinhee, 2012. "When thinking about goals undermines goal pursuit," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 99-107.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:118:y:2012:i:2:p:99-107
    DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.02.003

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    Cited by:

    1. Kanfer, Ruth & Chen, Gilad, 2016. "Motivation in organizational behavior: History, advances and prospects," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 6-19.
    2. Jung, Eun Jin & Lee, Sujin, 2015. "The combined effects of relationship conflict and the relational self on creativity," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 44-57.
    3. Dolan, Paul & Galizzi, Matteo M., 2015. "Like ripples on a pond: Behavioral spillovers and their implications for research and policy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 1-16.


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