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Title:Going all in or going slow: Preferences for radical versus incremental trajectories of behavior change
Author(s):Lohmann, Sophie
Director of Research:Albarracín, Dolores
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Albarracín, Dolores
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cohen, Dov; Stern, Chadly; Napolitano, Chris; Chan, Man-pui S
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):behavior change
goal setting
goal pursuit
Abstract:There are different temporal paths to achieving a goal such as exercising. Somebody with a radical change trajectory will invest large amounts of time and effort into the goal early and then attempt to sustain this level of effort over time. In contrast, somebody with an incremental change trajectory will start small and, over time, increase time and effort until the goal is met. Study 1 (N = 250) tested a measure of preferences for different trajectories as an individual difference. The measure had acceptable convergent and divergent validity and allowed us to detect that preferences for radical change predicted better trait self-regulation and less procrastination. Study 2 (N = 87) investigated how each type of trajectory is mentally represented. Results indicated that radical and incremental change goals are represented verbally in the form of self-talk and suggested that radical change goals are associated with a more action-oriented mindset. Study 3 (N = 176) included an experimental manipulation of change preferences and longitudinal measures of their effects on language learning over the course of one week. Beginners did not form radical plans even when the manipulation had successfully convinced them of the convenience of radical trajectories. In contrast, advanced learners who pursued radical trajectories did set radical intentions and subsequently dedicated 40-50 minutes more practice time throughout the week than those who set incremental intentions. The contribution of this doctoral thesis was to introduce a conceptualization of change trajectory preferences as a new construct and examine predictions about their effects.
Issue Date:2019-04-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Sophie Lohmann
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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