Julia Nafziger (Aarhus University) is presenting at the VCEE Seminar

Julia Nafziger talks about "Self-Set Goals Are Effective Self-Regulation Tools - Despite Goal Revision" on 16 April 2021 at 10am.


A large literature considers goals as motivators. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how and why non-binding, self-set goals can be effective even though individuals could easily revise such goals. To investigate this question, we conduct an online, real-effort experiment in which subjects face a tedious but well-paying task. Depending on the treatment, subjects either set a goal a few days before the task or right at the start of the task. In the former case, they may or may not be explicitly asked to revise their goal at the start of the task. Consistent with the hypothesis that goals are self-regulation tools, we observe that goals set before the task are larger than goals set at the start of the task. And they are effective: Holding the goal level constant, subjects work more when a goal was set a few days before the task than when it was set at the start of the task. Importantly, these results arise even though subjects revise their initial goals. They do so no matter whether goal revision is made explicit or not - suggesting that unobserved goal revision is an important factor for the goal non-achievement often observed in experiments and real life.