Department of Economics and Business Economics

Motivational Goal Bracketing: An experiment

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We study theoretically and experimentally how the bracketing of non-binding goals in a repeated task affects the level of goals that people set for themselves, the actual effort provided, and the pattern of effort over time. In our model, a sophisticated or partially naïve individual sets either daily or weekly goals to overcome a motivational problem caused by present-biased preferences. In an online, real-effort experiment, we randomly allocated subjects to treatments where they set either daily goals for how much to work over a one-week period or a single weekly goal. Consistent with the theoretical predictions, in the treatment with daily goals, the aggregate goal level for the week was higher and subjects provided more effort compared to the treatment with a weekly goal. The higher effort was driven by the higher aggregate goal level. Additional treatments complemented internal commitment through goals with an externally enforced minimum work requirement to get started working each day.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104949
JournalJournal of Economic Theory
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Commitment, Goals, Narrow bracketing, Online experiment, Real effort, Self-control

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