The Impact of Self-Image on how we Attain Goals

As one of the success on several studies about self-image, a new study suggests that the way people view themselves either independent or interdependent can influence how they set and achieve their goals; person with independent self image sees himself as unique among others, while one with interdependent view always seeks for sweet relationship with others.

According to the study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, it’s information that not only could help individuals set goals they may reasonably hope to achieve but also could guide marketers in matching a product to a particular audience.

Haiyang Yang, Ph.D., the lead author who is from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School with his two co-authors identify two kinds of goals — those of “attainment” or “maintenance.” Someone nurturing an attainment goal seeks to reach a desired state, by losing weight, or adding to a savings account. While one with maintenance goals would only seek to maintain the status quo, by letting his weight and savings account remain as they are.

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Through six experiments involving more than 2,000 participants in the United States and China, Yang and his colleagues found that when compared to people with a predominately interdependent self-construal who are motivated more by maintenance goals that emphasize stability and continuity, those with a predominately independent self-construal can only be motivated by goals of attainment and the accompanying potential for advancement and distinction.

“In one of our studies, we observed people’s real-life body weight goal pursuit behaviors — that is, losing vs. maintaining body weight — over a period of 13 months,” Yang, the lead author said in an interview.

“We found that people who had fewer social ties, and hence were more independent, were more likely to set the goal of reducing body weight, Yang added. Further, after people set their weight-management goals, the more independent individuals were more motivated, as measured by the amount of the money they were willing to bet on their success, to pursue weight-loss goals as opposed to weight-maintenance goals.”

Researchers found that appeals to a person’s sense of independence or interdependence can influence how goals are set, and eventually met.

Yang and his co-authors also assert that, companies should consider the findings when marketing products and services internationally, while focusing on whether the national culture leans toward independence or interdependence.

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Read Next >> 5 Disadvantages of Being Highly Intelligent

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Article backed by Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School’s materials.
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