The influence of time-interval descriptions on goal-pursuit decisions

Nira Munichor, Robyn A. Leboeuf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Consumers pursue numerous goals that are linked to particular time frames. Might one's likelihood of agreeing to pursue a goal fluctuate even if nothing about the goal's objective features changes, but if instead the only change is in how the time allotted for goal pursuit is described? Seven experiments show that consumers are more likely to agree to pursue goals when the completion interval is described by duration (e.g., "within exactly two weeks from now") instead of date (e.g., "between today and November 17"). This pattern may arise because dates, which may make it easier to retrieve competing obligations falling within the interval, lead people to focus more on the (unenjoyable) goal-pursuit process, whereas durations, which present the interval in isolation, allow people to focus more on the goal's (beneficial) outcome. These findings suggest that although how a time interval is described seems inconsequential, it has striking effects on goal-pursuit decisions and therefore has important implications for the marketing of products and actions designed to assist consumers in achieving their goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, American Marketing Association.

Keywords

  • Focus
  • Framing
  • Goal adoption
  • Temporal description
  • Time intervals

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