"Easier Said than Done": Promises as False Proxies in Goal Pursuit
Kruglanski, Arie W
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This study investigated goal activation following a promise to complete the goal. Because promising is a statement of commitment to a goal, it is generally assumed to increase goal activation. However, when individuals have the motivation to infer progress on the goal, and when information is accessible which would facilitate such an inference from the act of promising, goal activation should decrease following the promise. We hypothesized and found that when promises are made after competing goals have been activated and when positive affect is experienced following the promise, goal activation is lower than when a promise is not made. Only when competing goals were not activated and positive affect was experienced did promising lead to greater goal activation than not promising. These results add to current work on feedback processes in goal pursuit, and demonstrate the paradoxical effects of promising to complete a goal.