People who set ambitious goals seem to have greater level of satisfaction, reveals study.
Cecile K. Cho, a University of California, Riverside assistant marketing professor and her co-author and Gita Venkataramani Johar, a professor at Columbia University, set up two experiments to compare people who set ambitious goals to those who set conservative goals.
They focused on situations in which goals were achieved, and measured the level of satisfaction with the achieved goals.
"The moral of the story is don't sell yourself short," Cho said. "Aim high."
Existing research would predict that those who achieve their goals should be satisfied. Results suggested otherwise.
The researchers found that high goal setters average satisfaction was 7.85 while low goal setters were at 6.53.
Where the range of possible outcomes was reiterated, a similarly large gap occurred between high-goal setters (8.57) and low goal setters (6.98).
And where participants were reminded of their goal, the gap in happiness level between the two groups disappeared, with high goal setters at 7.72 and low goal setters at 7.46.
This suggested that when people set goals, they don't necessarily recall this goal to evaluate their performance, but recruit a higher comparison point to do so.
This upward comparison process likely negatively impacts their satisfaction with the performance of their portfolio, the study said.
The study will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research.