WASHINGTON: A new research has suggested that if one shares his or her goals publicly, one's motivation post-failure might be persisted. However, this can only be possible if one cares about public opinion.
According to new research from Binghamton University, the State University of New York, public announcements, such as Facebook posts about New Year's resolutions or weight loss targets, may only be motivating when there is immediate feedback after a failure and if there is a high incentive in reaching a goal.
"Everyone sets goals, and some people choose to make those goals public instead of keeping them private. Everyone also fails to meet goals from time to time," says Jenny Jiao, an assistant professor of marketing at Binghamton University's School of Management. "We were interested in finding out what happens after a failure."
Working with Catherine Cole, a professor of marketing at the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business, Jiao studied the effects of goal publicity, failure feedback and goal incentives on goal persistence across three different studies.
Each study consisted of subjects completing a task, learning they failed, and giving them another opportunity to complete the task, with variations to control for each of the effects they wanted to test.
"When you hit a failure, virtually all of the effort you've put into your goal is now a sunk cost. You can't go back and try to fix what you've already done. You now only have two options - give up or keep trying," says Jiao.
Researchers found that publicly announcing your goal only affects those who care about what others think about them.
"If your public reputation is something you hold in high regard, then failing publicly is probably going to push you to not want to fail publicly again. There is a greater chance you're going to try hitting that goal again," says Jiao.
However, Jiao says people who do not care too much about public perception aren't affected by the public or private nature of a goal after hitting failure.