Eyes on the prize: The longitudinal benefits of goal focus on progress toward a weight loss goal

 

Authors: Kyle E. Conlona, Joyce Ehrlingera, Richard P. Eibachb, A. William Crescionia, Jessica L. Alquista, Mary A. Gerendc, Gareth R. Duttonc (2011)

 

Abstract: Past research suggests that focusing on what has not yet been accomplished (goal focus) signals a lack of progress towards one’s high commitment goals and inspires greater motivation than does focusing on what has already been accomplished (accomplishment focus). The present investigation extends this research to a longitudinal, important domain by exploring the consequences of focusing on one’s goals versus accomplishments when pursuing a weight loss goal. Participants were tracked over the course of a 12-week weight loss program that utilized weekly group discussions and a companion website to direct participants’ focus toward their end weight loss goal or toward what they had already achieved. Goal-focused participants reported higher levels of commitment to their goal and, ultimately, lost more weight than did accomplishment-focused and no focus control participants. Accomplishment-focused participants did not differ from controls on any measure.

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