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Motivational Goal Bracketing: An Experiment

Author

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  • Koch, Alexander K.

    () (Aarhus University)

  • Nafziger, Julia

    () (Aarhus University)

Abstract

We study in an online, real-effort experiment how the bracketing of non-binding goals affects performance in a work-leisure self-control problem. We externally induce the goal bracket – daily goals or a weekly goal – and within that bracket let subjects set goals for how much they want to work over a one-week period. Our theoretical model predicts (i) that weekly goals create incentives to compensate for a lower than desired performance today with the promise to work harder tomorrow, whereas daily goals exclude such excuses; (ii) that subjects with daily goals set higher goals in aggregate and work harder than those with weekly goals. Our data support these predictions. Surprisingly, however, when goals are combined with an externally enforced commitment that requires subjects to spend less than a minute each day on the task to get started working, performance deteriorates because of high dropout rates from the task.

Suggested Citation

  • Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2017. "Motivational Goal Bracketing: An Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 10955, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10955
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brice Corgnet & Joaquín Gómez-Miñambres & Roberto Hernán-Gonzalez, 2016. "Goal Setting in the Principal-Agent Model: Weak Incentives for Strong Performance," Working Papers 1628, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    2. Colin Camerer & Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein & Richard Thaler, 1997. "Labor Supply of New York City Cabdrivers: One Day at a Time," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 407-441.
    3. Brice Corgnet & Joaquín Gómez-Miñambres & Roberto Hernán-González, 2015. "Goal Setting and Monetary Incentives: When Large Stakes Are Not Enough," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(12), pages 2926-2944, December.
    4. Clark, Damon & Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria L. & Rush, Mark, 2016. "Using Goals to Motivate College Students: Theory and Evidence from Field Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 10283, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Burger, Nicholas & Charness, Gary & Lynham, John, 2011. "Field and online experiments on self-control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 393-404, March.
    6. Alberto Bisin & Kyle Hyndman, 2014. "Present-Bias, Procrastination and Deadlines in a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 19874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    8. Ned Augenblick & Muriel Niederle & Charles Sprenger, 2015. "Editor's Choice Working over Time: Dynamic Inconsistency in Real Effort Tasks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(3), pages 1067-1115.
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    10. Powell, James L., 1984. "Least absolute deviations estimation for the censored regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-325, July.
    11. Alexander K. Koch & Julia Nafziger, 2011. "Self‐regulation through Goal Setting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 212-227, March.
    12. Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2008. "Goal Setting as a Self-Regulation Mechanism," Working Papers w0122, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    self-control; goals; narrow bracketing; commitment devices; real effort; online experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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