Ayelet Fishbach

Ayelet Fishbach
University of Chicago | UC · Chicago Booth School of Business

Doctor of Philosophy

About

140
Publications
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Introduction
Ayelet Fishbach currently works at the Chicago Booth School of Business, University of Chicago. Ayelet does research in motivation and decision making.

Publications

Publications (140)
Article
Society celebrates failure as a teachable moment. But do people actually learn from failure? Although lay wisdom suggests people should, a review of the research suggests that this is hard. We present a unifying framework that points to emotional and cognitive barriers that make learning from failure difficult. Emotions undermine learning because p...
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Achieving personal growth often requires experiencing discomfort. What if instead of tolerating discomfort (e.g., feeling awkward or uncomfortable), people actively sought it out? Because discomfort is usually experienced immediately and is easy to detect, we suggest that seeking discomfort as a signal of growth can increase motivation. Five experi...
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We present a new consequence of stereotypes: they affect the length of communications. People say more about events that violate common stereotypes than those that confirm them, a phenomenon we dub surprised elaboration. Across two public data sets, government officials wrote longer reports when negative events befell White people (stereotype-incon...
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Impatience results from the belief that waiting is either too hard or not worth it. Distinguishing between these barriers informs which intervention will increase patience. Making waiting easier increases patience when people are unable to wait. Increasing the value of waiting increases patience when they lack the desire to wait.
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Intrinsic motivation (IM) is key for persistence at work. When they are intrinsically motivated, people experience work activities as an end in itself, such that the activity and its goal collide. The result is increased interest and enjoyment of work activities. In this article, we review the current state of knowledge on IM, including studies wit...
Article
“What beautiful music!” I exclaim as my 9-year-old son practices violin. He’s used to this praise; I give compliments like that most days. But every once in a while I skip it, and when I do, I can see the disappointment on his face when he’s finished. Am I a bad mom? Conventional wisdom says that consistency is key to parenting, since it enables yo...
Article
When my son was in preschool, he was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. It’s a mild condition, his pediatrician assured us, one he’d most likely outgrow (and he eventually did). But for the time being, he needed to abstain from gluten. Adjusting my son’s diet was relatively easy, since gluten-free bread and pasta are now ubiquitous. What I didn’t e...
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Policy-makers are increasingly turning to behavioural science for insights about how to improve citizens’ decisions and outcomes¹. Typically, different scientists test different intervention ideas in different samples using different outcomes over different time intervals². The lack of comparability of such individual investigations limits their po...
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This article explores self-motivation. I ask how people can strategically manipulate their circumstances to motivate themselves to reach their own goals. I first identify four areas of motivation research, including (a) setting a goal, (b) sustaining motivation through progress feedback, (c) managing multiple, competing goals, and (d) leveraging so...
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This article discusses ways in which aging individuals respond to physical, social, and environmental changes and constraints by modifying their goals. We review aging-related trends, which we derive from several theoretical approaches, including goal systems theory, the motivational theory of life-span development and its action-phase model, and t...
Article
Building on the seminal definition of “healthy aging” by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2015; 2020), we present a model of motivation and healthy aging that is aimed at identifying the central psychological constructs and processes for understanding what older persons value, and how they can attain and maintain these valued aspects of their li...
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Consumption of used products has the potential to symbolically connect present and previous users of these products, something that would be appealing to lonely consumers. Accordingly, across seven studies, feeling lonely increased the preference for previously owned products. Specifically, the proportion of lone shoppers was higher in a used versu...
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Previous research testing the hedonic editing hypothesis examined preferences for the timing of events that happen to the self—asking, for example, whether people prefer to experience two positive or two negative events on the same or different day(s). Here, we examine preferences for the timing of events that happen to the self and to others— soci...
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How does liking of a target affect patience? One possibility is that the more people like a target the less patient they are for it, because it is more difficult to resist the attractive smaller-sooner option to wait for the larger-later option. However, across six studies (N = 2,774), we found evidence for the opposite effect. Specifically, an inc...
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What makes patients impatient? We find that people both make impatient health decisions and experience impatience when waiting for healthcare partially because they are eager to achieve psychological closure on their goals. Across five preregistered studies (N = 1806), we first document an increased preference for a worse health device (Study 1) an...
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People often face choices between known options and unknown ones. Our research documents a social-exploration effect: People are more likely to explore unknown options when they learn about known options from other people’s experiences. Across four studies (N = 2,333), we used an incentive-compatible paradigm where participants chose between known...
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To explain trade-offs in choice, researchers have proposed myriad phenomena and decision rules, each paired with separate theories and idiosyncratic vocabularies. Yet most choice problems are ultimately resolved with one of just two types of solutions: mixed or extreme. For example, people adopt mixed solutions for resolving trade-offs when they al...
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Failure often contains useful information, yet across five studies involving 11 separate samples (N = 1238), people were reluctant to share this information with others. First, using a novel experimental paradigm, we found that participants consistently undershared failure—relative to success and a no-feedback experience—even though failure contain...
Article
Across 7 studies, food restrictions increased loneliness by limiting the ability to bond with others through similar food consumption. We first found that food restrictions predict loneliness using observer- and self-reports among children and adults (Studies 1-3). Next, we found mediation by the experience of worry and moderation by eating similar...
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Our society celebrates failure as a teachable moment. Yet in five studies (total N = 1,674), failure did the opposite: It undermined learning. Across studies, participants answered binary-choice questions, following which they were told they answered correctly (success feedback) or incorrectly (failure feedback). Both types of feedback conveyed the...
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The recent debate in the study of ego depletion casts doubt on the assumption that self-control has a limited capacity. Adopting a revisionist perspective, we assume that people manage self-control exertion efficiently and ask what psychological mechanism would counteract motivational withdrawal following initial exertion in order to sustain an imp...
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People often make judgments about a group (e.g., immigrants from a specific country) based on information about a single group member. Seven studies (N = 1,929) tested the hypothesis that people will expect the performance of an arbitrarily ordered group to match that of the group member in the first position of a sequence more closely than that of...
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A meal naturally brings people together, but does the way a meal is served and consumed further matter for cooperation between people? This research ( N = 1,476) yielded evidence that it does. People eating from shared plates (i.e., a Chinese-style meal) cooperated more in social dilemmas and negotiations than those eating from separate plates. Spe...
Article
Typically, individuals struggling with goal achievement seek advice. However, in the present investigation (N = 2,274), struggling individuals were more motivated by giving advice than receiving it. In a randomized, controlled, double-blind field experiment, middle-school students who gave motivational advice to younger students spent more time on...
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Across five studies (N = 1428), we documented an important prediction problem in recruitment: Job candidates mispredicted how much recruiters valued expressions of intrinsic motivation (e.g., learning that a candidate desired meaningful work). In contrast, candidates more accurately predicted how much recruiters valued expressions of extrinsic moti...
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Across five studies (N = 1428), we documented an important prediction problem in recruitment: Job candidates mispredicted how much recruiters valued expressions of intrinsic motivation (e.g., learning that a candidate desired meaningful work). In contrast, candidates more accurately predicted how much recruiters valued expressions of extrinsic moti...
Article
Typically, individuals struggling with goal achievement seek advice. However, in the present investigation (N = 2,274), struggling individuals were more motivated by giving advice than receiving it. In a randomized-controlled, double-blind, field experiment, middle school students who gave motivational advice to younger students spent more time on...
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Can immediate (vs. delayed) rewards increase intrinsic motivation? Prior research compared the presence versus absence of rewards. By contrast, this research compared immediate versus delayed rewards, predicting that more immediate rewards increase intrinsic motivation by creating a perceptual fusion between the activity and its goal (i.e., the rew...
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Goal systems are hierarchical, often requiring people to invest resources vertically—both in lower-order means and higher-order goals. For example, a college student who wants to take a particular class (a goal) might first have to take a prerequisite (the means). We investigated how the hierarchical configuration of goals and means affects prefere...
Article
The term intrinsic motivation refers to an activity being seen as its own end. Accordingly, we conceptualize intrinsic motivation (IM) as (perceived) means-ends fusion and define an intrinsicality continuum reflecting the degree to which such fusion is experienced. Our Means-Ends Fusion (MEF) theory assumes four major antecedents of activity-goal f...
Article
This article explores three sources of motivation in goal pursuit: obtaining external rewards, obtaining internal rewards, and maintaining a positive self-concept. First, when people pursue a goal to obtain an external reward (outcome focus), their motivation increases as a function of the extent to which they value the reward and their expectancy...
Article
Intimacy is often motivated by love, but sometimes it is merely functional. For example, disrobing and being touched at an airport security check serves the goal of catching a flight, not building a relationship. We propose that this functional intimacy induces discomfort, making people prefer greater social distance from their interaction partner....
Preprint
The term intrinsic motivation refers to an activity being seen as its own end. Accordingly, we conceptualize intrinsic motivation (IM) as (perceived) means-ends fusion and define an intrinsicality continuum reflecting the degree to which such fusion is experienced. Our Means-Ends Fusion (MEF) theory assumes four major antecedents of activity-goal f...
Book
This volume honors the work of Arie W. Kruglanski. It represents a collection of chapters written by Arie’s former students, friends, and collaborators. The chapters are rather diverse and cover a variety of topics from politics, including international terrorism, to health related issues, such as addiction and self-control, to basic psychological...
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Intimacy is often motivated by love, but sometimes it is merely functional. For example, disrobing and being touched at an airport security check serves the goal of catching a flight, not building a relationship. We propose that this functional intimacy induces discomfort, making people prefer greater social distance from their interaction partner....
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Fact: Holding force constant, a snowball thrown from 10 feet away will hurt more than one thrown from 50 feet away; it will have more impact. We show that people expect charitable donations—much like snowballs—to have more impact on nearby (vs. faraway) targets. Therefore, because making an impact is a powerful motivator of prosocial behavior, peop...
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In four studies, we document an increase in the amount of negative feedback friends and colleagues exchange as their relationship deepens. We find that both actual and perceived relationship depth increase the amount of negative feedback people seek from and provide to each other, as well as their tendency to invest in a focal (relationship or perf...
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How does bundling affect valuation? This research proposes the asymmetry hypothesis in the valuation of bundles: Consumers demand more compensation for the loss of items from bundles, compared to the loss of the same items in isolation, yet offer lower willingness-to-pay for items added to bundles, compared to the same items purchased separately. T...
Article
This research examines the consequences of incidental food consumption for trust and cooperation. We find that strangers who are assigned to eat similar (vs. dissimilar) foods are more trusting of each other in a trust game (Study 1). Food consumption further influences conflict resolution, with strangers who are assigned to eat similar foods coope...
Chapter
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Kruglanski et al. (2002) proposed that an activity (i.e., a means) is intrinsically motivated when it coincides with its goal (i.e., the reward for pursuing it). Based on this observation, we provide a framework for understanding intrinsic motivation using insights from research on immediate and delayed rewards. We explore the parallels between int...
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We test the hypothesis that people, when observed, perceive their actions as more substantial because they add the audience’s perspective to their own perspective. We find that participants who were observed while eating (Study 1) or learned they were observed after eating (Study 2) recalled eating a larger portion than unobserved participants. The...
Article
People primarily pursue long-term goals, such as exercising, to receive delayed rewards (e.g., improved health). However, we find that the presence of immediate rewards is a stronger predictor of persistence in goal-related activities than the presence of delayed rewards. Specifically, immediate rewards (e.g., enjoyment) predicted current persisten...
Chapter
Past research has investigated ego depletion primarily in goal-absent contexts. We argue that the effect of depletion is more nuanced in goal-present contexts, whereby a long-term goal is highly salient. Specifically, we propose that individuals can recruit a motivational tuning process to adaptively respond to the state of depletion. Essentially,...
Article
The authors find that experimental studies using online samples (e.g., MTurk) often violate the assumption of random assignment, because participant attrition-quitting a study before completing it and getting paid-is not only prevalent, but also varies systemically across experimental conditions. Using standard social psychology paradigms (e.g., eg...
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This article explores motivation in a social context: how people pursue goals with others, with information on others, and for the self and others. As people incorporate close others into their extended selves (Aron et al., ), they begin to treat others' actions and outcomes as partially their own. This tendency, in turn, has implications for coord...
Chapter
This article reviews research on motivation in a social context. We first explore pursuit of personal goals and how information on others, as well as the presence of others, influences motivation. We next explore pursuit of group goals, including pursuit of goals alone for the self and others, and pursuit of shared goals together with others. Acros...
Article
Prosocial actions often involve giving something that represents one’s essence, be it one’s name (e.g., signature), personal possessions, or body (e.g., blood donation). This research compares such “self-giving” to the giving of resources of comparable value that are less connected to one’s essence. We show in five studies that self-giving embeds g...
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This research documents the “friendly taking effect” in choosing consumption packages for the self and others: interpersonal closeness leads to a preference for a self-benefiting package when this package also offers greater total benefit to the self-other collective (studies 1-2). We propose that a friendly intention (i.e., concern for the total b...
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Pursuing personal goals for delayed rewards (e.g., exercising to improve health) often provides consumers with immediate rewards (e.g., a fun workout) in addition to the delayed rewards they receive. With regard to health and academic goals, we find that attending to the immediate rewards of health and academic activities increases persistence in t...
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This research tests the hypothesis that individuals exercise restraint for actions that reflect on their self-concept (i.e., self-diagnostic actions). Experiments 1 and 2 show an action framed as occurring at the beginning or end (vs. middle) of a constructed sequence is seen as more self-diagnostic. Accordingly, Experiment 3 finds more restraint i...
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We document a shift in the value assigned to intrinsic incentives: people value these incentives more inside an activity than outside the activity (i.e., during vs. before or after pursuit). For example, people care more about the level of interest of their present work task than of past or future work tasks. We document this shift across a variety...
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Practitioners and researchers alike explore ways of increasing motivation. Whereas previous research mainly explores interventions that operate on people’s goals (e.g., via goal setting), we explore an intervention that operates on overcoming interfering temptations and nudging self-control success. We report an experiment testing a 1-week smartpho...
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Although much research examines how physicians perceive their patients, here we study how patients perceive physicians. We propose patients consider their physicians like personally emotionless “empty vessels”: The higher is individuals’ need for care, the less they value physicians’ traits related to their personal lives (e.g., self-focused emotio...
Article
Whereas people generally conform to others' choices, this research documents that conformity decreases once others have acted on their chosen options. It suggests words speak louder than actions-people are more likely to conform to others' preferences than their actions. Specifically, people are less likely to follow another person's food choice if...
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Ethical dilemmas pose a self-control conflict between pursuing immediate benefits through behaving dishonestly and pursuing long-term benefits through acts of honesty. Therefore, factors that facilitate self-control for other types of goals (e.g., health and financial) should also promote ethical behavior. Across four studies, we find support for t...
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Can a reward of an uncertain magnitude be more motivating than a reward of a certain magnitude? This research documents the motivating-uncertainty effect and specifies when this effect occurs. People invest more effort, time, and money to qualify for an uncertain reward (e.g., a 50% chance at $2 and a 50% chance at $1) than a certain reward of a hi...
Article
This chapter asks, when does motivation increase as a result of attending to accomplishments and when does it increase as a result of attending to their absence? We propose that attention to accomplishments increases motivation among uncommitted and inexperienced individuals by increasing their goal commitment. In contrast, attention to lack of acc...
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How does nonconsumption shape desire? The proposed model suggests that desire depends on the length of nonconsumption of a good and the presence of salient alternatives, and that desire is at least partially constructed. In the absence of salient alternatives, a longer nonconsumption period results in stronger desire for the unconsumed good. Howeve...
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We investigate whether information on upcoming goal attainment spoils some of the benefits of attaining the goal, because people hold a script suggesting they should feel happy at the “right” time; that is, after the goal is attained. We find that people falsely recall sequences of events in a way that corresponds to a script of feeling happy upon...
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This article examines cognitive, affective, and behavioral measures of motivation and reviews their use throughout the discipline of experimental social psychology. We distinguish between two dimensions of motivation (outcome-focused motivation and process-focused motivation). We discuss circumstances under which measures may help distinguish betwe...
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Recent years have seen a rejuvenation of interest in studies of motivation-cognition interactions arising from many different areas of psychology and neuroscience. The present issue of Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience provides a sampling of some of the latest research from a number of these different areas. In this introductory artic...
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Marketers, educators, and caregivers often refer to instrumental benefits to convince preschoolers to eat (e.g., “this food will make you strong”). We propose that preschoolers infer that if food is instrumental to achieve a goal, it is less tasty, and therefore they consume less of it. Accordingly, we find that preschoolers (3-5.5 years old) rated...
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Full-text available
Marketers, educators, and caregivers often refer to instrumental benefits to convince preschoolers to eat (e.g., “this food will make you strong”). We propose that preschoolers infer that if food is instrumental to achieve a goal, it is less tasty, and therefore they consume less of it. Accordingly, we find that preschoolers (3-5.5 years old) rated...
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I present evidence in favor of an overarching motivational self: a mental function that regulates expression of multiple goals. Goals often conflict with each other, and the role of a motivational self is to consciously or unconsciously prioritize pursuit of these goals. When observing inconsistency in expression of goals, it is therefore useful to...
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We explore how waiting to choose influences patience. We propose that waiting to make an intertemporal choice increases the assumed value of the items for which people are waiting, leading them to become more patient. Five studies support this model. Study 1 finds that after waiting to choose, people exhibit greater patience than if they had not wa...
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This article examines a small-area hypothesis: individuals striving toward a goal end state exhibit greater motivation when their attention is directed to whichever is smaller in size—their accumulated or remaining progress. The result is that, at the beginning of goal pursuit, directing attention to accumulated progress increases goal adherence re...
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Research on counteractive control explores the processes that individuals employ to increase the motivational strength of their high-order goals and decrease the motivational strength of their low-order temptations. In this chapter, we first describe the basic assumption of counteractive control theory: that self-control is an instrumental response...
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Diverse facets of the multifinality configuration in goal-directed behavior are identified and empirically explored. The multifinality construct denotes a motivational structure wherein a single means is linked to several ends. A multifinality configuration maximizes value that a given means promises to deliver while sacrificing expectancy of attai...