Goal Distance and Consumer Choice

Session Chair: Ran Kivetz, Columbia University
Discussion Leader: Drazen Prelect, Sloan School M.I.T.

GOAL Distance and consumer choice


Temporal Construal and Value-Consistent Choice

Yaacov Trope (New York University)


Based on Construal Level Theory (Trope & Liberman 2003), it is proposed that central goals, attitudes, and values, because of their relatively abstract and decontextualized nature, more readily guide choice for psychologically distant situations. As one gets closer to a situation, choices are increasingly more likely to be based on secondary, low level considerations. Consistent with this proposal, a series of studies demonstrate that people’s central goals, attitudes, and values have greater influence on their choices for the distant future, whereas their more peripheral goals, attitudes, and values have greater influence on their choices for the near future.


The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention

Ran Kivetz, Oleg Urminsky and Yuhuang Zheng (Columbia University)


Building on the behaviorist goal-gradient hypothesis (Hull 1934), we demonstrate that: (a) participants in real incentive programs accelerate their purchases and exhibit higher frequency, quantity, and persistence of effort as they approach reward goals; (b) the illusion of goal-progress likewise induces effort acceleration; e.g., customers given a “12-stamp” coffee card with two pre-existing “bonus” stamps complete the 10 required purchases faster than customers given a “regular” 10-stamp card; and (c) stronger goal-acceleration predicts greater customer retention and faster reengagement in the program. Our conceptualization and empirical findings are captured by a parsimonious goal-distance model, in which effort investment is a function of the proportion of original (perceived) distance remaining to the goal.

Mindset over Matter: The Interplay between Goals and Preferences

Anastasiya Pocheptsova and Ravi Dhar (Yale University)


Research on goals demonstrates that people evaluate options based on current active goals, whereas choice research ignores the goals that people bring to the choice situation. Our paper looks at the interplay of mindset and goal focus on subsequent preferences. An option can be seen facilitative or interfering to the focal goal and this determines the preference for an option. In a series of studies we demonstrate the effect and processes by which different mindsets influence preferences in a subsequent task. We show that distinct mindsets have different levels of goal commitment, which affects how option is evaluated relative to the focal goal pursuit.
[ to cite ]:
Session Chair: Ran Kivetz and Discussion Leader: Drazen Prelect (2006) ,"Goal Distance and Consumer Choice", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 424-427.