Goal Gradient EffectOpen Access

Goal Gradient Effect

Our efforts increase the closer we are to task completion

Whether we’re acting as a consumer, employee or student, we work harder and faster as we close in on the goal in our sights.

Cryder, Loewenstein & Seltman (2013). Goal gradient in helping behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

The study

Setup

Setup

172 people were told of a fundraiser called Sheila who needed to sell 100 candy bars for her sports team and told she had to sell either 1 or 21 more bars to meet her quota. They were then asked how likely they were to buy a candy from her.

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Results

Results

Those in the almost-complete task state were far more likely to help than when there were many left.

Study graph
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Cryder, Loewenstein & Seltman (2013). Goal gradient in helping behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Key Takeaways

1
1

Visualize to motivate.

Showing quantifiable task progress  with a visual and numerical indicator will increase completion speed (Cheema & Bagchi, 2011).  

How can you heighten desire to close in on the reward?

Note that effort levels will fall after the current reward has been attained, so reframe progress around the next goal.

Takeaway image
2
2

Be ahead of the curve. 

Endow Progress and put more weight on task completion at the start than when close to the goal. 

Place easier tasks at start and middle, saving harder or bigger ones for just before reward.

Takeaway image
3
3

Reframe task size.

Motivation to complete a task is directly proportionate to its size. So, for viewers new to Breaking Bad, instead of Netflix initially highlighting all 5 seasons, reframe the task as a single season with a sense of completion.

Once season 1 is watched, reframe season 2 as a natural extension of 1 but distinct from 3-5.

Takeaway image
4
4
Takeaway image
Takeaway image
np_read_2490885_000000
np_read_2490885_000000

In further detail

Takeaway image
Currently being prepared...
Goal Gradient Effect

Goal Gradient Effect

Our efforts increase the closer we are to task completion

Whether we’re acting as a consumer, employee or student, we work harder and faster as we close in on the goal in our sights.

The study

Setup

172 people were told of a fundraiser called Sheila who needed to sell 100 candy bars for her sports team and told she had to sell either 1 or 21 more bars to meet her quota. They were then asked how likely they were to buy a candy from her.

Results

Those in the almost-complete task state were far more likely to help than when there were many left.

study graph
np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

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Nuggets

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Dynamic Norms

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We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

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Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

Connected to

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