Kellogg Research Explores Self Control and Motivation


Maferima Touré-Tillery pic

Maferima Touré-Tillery

Jeff Drobny splits his time between his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Minneapolis, Minnesota where he recently led an acquisition of Black River Asset Management, a subsidiary of Cargill, to Garda Capital Partners where he now works as managing partner and chief investment officer. A part-time Arizona resident, Jeff Drobny started his successful career after earning his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Kellogg School assistant professor of marketing Maferima Touré-Tillery’s recent studies on motivation and self control found that people are more likely to stick to their goals when they are at the beginning or end of a certain sequence rather than in the middle. For example, marketing that invited business school students to choose between a packet of raisins or a chocolate bar at the beginning, end, or middle of their days showed significantly less self control in the middle of the day. The students, who had previously agreed that healthy eating is important, chose the raisins 40 percent of the time when offered the choice at the beginning of their day and 46 percent of the time at the end of the day, while only 22 percent chose the raisins in the middle of the day .

Touré-Tillery suggests that this may be partly because we tend to focus more attention on the beginnings and end of things, making us more likely to adhere to rules or our goals in those moments. This is information that could be used by marketers encouraging people to purchase more by framing their products as being part of a mid-year sale, for example. Public health campaigns, on the other hand, could encourage healthier habits by framing them around new beginnings. Consumers with this awareness may be able to cultivate better habits themselves by simply being aware that their motivation and self control will change depending on where they perceive themselves in a sequence.


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