When thinking about goals undermines goal pursuit
By Ayelet Fishbach and Jinhee Choi (2012)
Abstract: We explore how attending to the goals an activity achieves (i.e., its instrumentality) impacts the motivation to pursue the activity. We propose that the focus on the activity’s instrumentality renders the activity more valuable yet its experience less positive. Because experience is mainly salient while pursuing (vs. planning) an activity, attending to the activity’s instrumentality increases the intention to pursue the activity but decreases how persistently individuals pursue it. We document this impact of attending to goals on increased intentions but decreased persistence on various activities, from a exercising on a treadmill (Study 1) and creating origami (Study 2) to dental flossing (Study 3) and practicing yoga (Study 4).