Foregone and forethought: Motivation in the context of past and future alternatives

Johannes Seehusen

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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The best prophet of the future is the past, as the British poet Lord Byron once asserted. His insight would certainly mean good news for all of us who have a happy and successful past. For those of us, who lived through failures and unhappiness, however, this would be a dark foreboding. Fortunately, reality is not so clear-cut. In fact, there is probably not a single person, who doesn’t know both success and failure. How we face our future is therefore at least partially determined by whether we prosper from our successes and recover from our failures. This is the topic of this dissertation. One result of our research might be called the buffet effect: persons who choose a salad from a buffet with many less healthy alternatives will feel better about themselves than people who order salad from a salad bar. This elevated feeling of successful self-restraint then translates into extra motivation for restraint in the future. Another line of research looked at failure and compared people who perceive failure as behavioral patterns or as exceptions, thus deviations from patterns. We find that only people who perceive failure as exceptions feel that failing is untypical for them and therefore motivate themselves to make up for it. Our third line of research would be the anticipated buffet effect: people who anticipate that a greasy pizza at the buffet is endangering their plan of eating healthily are more likely to have a salad than those who don’t.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Spears, Russell, Supervisor
  • Epstude, Kai, Co-supervisor
Award date11-Dec-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-0307-6
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-0306-9
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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