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The Unexpected Positive Impact of Fixed Structures on Goal Completion

Liyin Jin, Szu-Chi Huang and Ying Zhang
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 4 (December 2013), pp. 711-725
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/671762
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/671762
Page Count: 15
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The Unexpected Positive Impact of Fixed Structures on Goal Completion
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Abstract

The current research explores how the structure of a goal, more specifically whether its completion requires completing a set of actions in a fixed sequence or in a flexible order, influences consumers’ decision to adopt the goal and how individuals actually fare once they have initiated the goal pursuit. Four experiments demonstrated that although the requirement to complete all goal-related actions following a fixed sequence discourages consumers from adopting the goal, this rigidity turns out to be more effective in inducing actual goal completion. This reversal occurs because consumers are unable to foresee the extent to which a fixed goal structure can help reduce the difficulty in goal pursuit.

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