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Goal Gradient Effect
Goal Gradient Effect
Goal Gradient Effect
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Overview

Are you struggling to motivate yourself or others to reach goals? 

The G ...

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Quid ergo attinet gloriose loqui, nisi constanter loquare? Mihi vero, inquit, placet agi subtilius et, ut ipse dixisti, pressius. Summum a vobis bonum voluptas dicitur. Quod idem cum vestri faciant, non satis magnam tribuunt inventoribus gratiam. Ac ne plura complectar-sunt enim innumerabilia-, bene laudata virtus voluptatis aditus intercludat necesse est. Recte, inquit, intellegis. Ergo, si semel tristior effectus est, hilara vita amissa est? Sed vobis voluptatum perceptarum recordatio vitam beatam facit, et quidem corpore perceptarum.

A quibus propter discendi cupiditatem videmus ultimas terras esse peragratas. Aliter homines, aliter philosophos loqui putas oportere? Quis Pullum Numitorium Fregellanum, proditorem, quamquam rei publicae nostrae profuit, non odit? Cum autem in quo sapienter dicimus, id a primo rectissime dicitur. Ego vero volo in virtute vim esse quam maximam; Polemoni et iam ante Aristoteli ea prima visa sunt, quae paulo ante dixi.

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Actionable Takeaways
  • Show progress towards a goal. 

Provide your audience with a visual representati ...

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Roges enim Aristonem, bonane ei videantur haec: vacuitas doloris, divitiae, valitudo; Nam aliquando posse recte fieri dicunt nulla expectata nec quaesita voluptate. Qui-vere falsone, quaerere mittimus-dicitur oculis se privasse; An quod ita callida est, ut optime possit architectari voluptates? Ita ne hoc quidem modo paria peccata sunt.

Istam voluptatem perpetuam quis potest praestare sapienti? Quod autem in homine praestantissimum atque optimum est, id deseruit. Alterum significari idem, ut si diceretur, officia media omnia aut pleraque servantem vivere. Qua tu etiam inprudens utebare non numquam. Restincta enim sitis stabilitatem voluptatis habet, inquit, illa autem voluptas ipsius restinctionis in motu est. At Zeno eum non beatum modo, sed etiam divitem dicere ausus est. Potius inflammat, ut coercendi magis quam dedocendi esse videantur. Omnes enim iucundum motum, quo sensus hilaretur. Quid est igitur, inquit, quod requiras?

Limitations

A variation on the Goal Gradient Effect was posed by marketing academic and researcher Andrea Bonezzi, who argued that “motivation to engage in goal-consistent behavior can be higher when people are either far from or close to the end state and lower when they are about halfway to the end state.”  Thus rather than focusing on the end aspect of the journey, Bonezzi describes a ‘U-shaped’ model of motivation, with the problematic middle between starting point and end goal. 

In Practice

Contributing to charities. 

This study entitled Goal Gradient in Helping Behavior, found that “People are more likely to pitch in as charitable campaigns approach their goals. Such “goal gradient helping” occurs in part because late-stage efforts provide donors with a heightened sense of personal impact, an influential source of satisfaction from prosocial acts.” 

Car wash loyalty. 

This 2006 study, similar to the cited coffee loyalty card example in the summary above, used loyalty cards for a car wash. In this case, one card had 8 spots to fill for a free car wash, the other had 10 with two already stamped. The group given the perceived head start resulted in a 34% engagement rate in the loyalty program compared to 19% for the others.

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Origins & Resources

The Goal Gradient Effect was first identified by Clark Hull during the 1930s in relation to animals, particularly his study of rats accelerating their pace closer to the end of a maze and a food reward. Hull, an engineer by background, went on to break down his observations and interpret them as a mathematical formula which he outlined in his book Principles of Behaviour.  

The effect was expanded to humans in a 2006 study by Ran Kivetz et al. The authors of that study explained: “The key findings indicate that (1) participants in a real café reward program purchase coffee more frequently the closer they are to earning a free coffee; (2) Internet users who rate songs in return for reward certificates visit the rating Web site more often, rate more songs per visit, and persist longer in the rating effort as they approach the reward goal; (3) the illusion of progress toward the goal induces purchase acceleration (e.g., customers who receive a 12-stamp coffee card with 2 preexisting “bonus” stamps complete the 10 required purchases faster than customers who receive a “regular” 10-stamp card); and (4) a stronger tendency to accelerate toward the goal predicts greater retention and faster reengagement in the program.”

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