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Virtual boundaries: How environmental cues affect motivation and task-oriented behavior
Date:9/21/2012

NEW YORK - September 21, 2012 - Much of our daily lives are spent completing tasks that involve a degree of waiting, such as remaining on hold while scheduling a doctor's appointment or standing in line at an ATM. Faced with a wait, some people postpone, avoid, or abandon their task. Others endure the wait but feel dissatisfied and frustrated by the experience.

Are there ways to improve our outlook and mindset while waiting? A new study shows that seemingly irrelevant environmental cuessuch as queue guides, or barriers commonly used in banks and airportscan serve as virtual boundaries that divide those waiting into two categories: those who are inside the system and those who are outside the system. In several experiments, Leonard Lee, associate professor of marketing at Columbia Business School, working with Min Zhao and Dilip Soman of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, showed that in-system individuals demonstrate increased action initiation, persistence in completing tasks, and overall optimism.

Prior studies have shown that situational cues can have a significant impact on behavior. For example, playing French music in a wine shop has been shown to increase purchases of French wine. This new research shows that even cues that are not directly related to an individual's goal can have a substantial effect in a task environment, influencing cognition and the subsequent manner in which the task is completed.

Consciously and unconsciously, people tend to locate physical markers in their environments to create and define boundaries. The researchers explored whether objects and patterns in a waiting environmentranging from queue guides and area carpets to the location of another personcan create virtual boundaries that divide those waiting between in-system and out-system categories. After crossing the virtual boundary, the researchers hypothesized, an individual would adopt an implemental mindset, which is charact
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Contact: Evan Nowell
egn2109@columbia.edu
212-851-9147
Columbia Business School
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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