Goal Setting and Self-Control

Last registered on July 12, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Goal Setting and Self-Control
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009560
Initial registration date
June 29, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
July 12, 2022, 2:00 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Nottingham

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-06-23
End date
2022-10-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
It is common practice to intend to do something to serve a distal objective but end up doing something else with an immediate reward. The time-inconsistent preferences lead people to deviate from what was thought optimal at an earlier point. This is particularly applicable when the underlined task is tedious such as studying, following a diet, exercising, etc. People with present-biased preferences and a lack of self-control frequently suffer from such occurrences. Recently, theoretical economists have suggested that goal setting can attenuate the lack of self-control problem. They argue that when an individual sets a goal for herself, her goal acts as a reference point. The failure to comply with the reference point is perceived as a loss. Since pains manifest higher than gains, enhanced motivation is provoked, leading the goal setter to be more persistent. That is, the interaction between time discounting and loss aversion can make goal setting an effective tool for self-regulation. In this study, we aim to experimentally investigate whether the impact of goal setting is heterogeneous depending on the agents' time preferences, loss aversion and self-control.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Alandijany, Basim, Martin Sefton and Fabio Tufano. 2022. "Goal Setting and Self-Control." AEA RCT Registry. July 12. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9560
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Subjects will be invited to participate in an online experiment, which consists of two parts (i.e., Day 1 and Day 2). The primary objective of Day 1 is to measure control variables and implement the goal setting intervention for the treatment group. Day 2 is designed mainly to observe the subjects’ performance in a real-effort task. The real-effort task is to count zeros in 6x5 matrices of random zeros and ones. The subjects will have up to 24 hours, and they can choose how much effort they would like to spend on the task.

The intervention is such that the treated subjects will be asked on Day 1 how many correct answers they aim to submit in Day 2. Using a slider, they will be able to see how much time they approximately need to achieve their goal and how much they would earn if they have achieved their goal.
Intervention Start Date
2022-06-23
Intervention End Date
2022-10-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
To experimentally investigate whether goal setting has a heterogeneous effect on the subsequent performance depending on the agents' time preferences, loss aversion and self-control.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Subjects will be invited to participate in an online experiment, which consists of two parts (i.e., Day 1 and Day 2). They will be randomly assigned to either a control group or a treatment group. During Day 1, the subjects will be exposed to survey questions and a 3-munites real effort task to measure control variables. Unlike the participants in the control group, the treated subjects will then be asked to set a goal to their performance in Day 2. The subjects will have up to 24 hours, and they can choose how much effort they would like to spend on the task. The real-effort task in Day 1 and in Day 2 is to count zeros in 6x5 matrices of random zeros and ones.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomisation will be stratified by gender and the self-control measures. This will be done by using Qualtrics.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
200 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
200
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 control, 100 goal setting treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Nottingham School of Economics Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2022-05-08
IRB Approval Number
N/A