To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted studies that examined how environmental cues activate the implemental mindset, both behaviorally and cognitively. In one experiment, the researchers placed queue guides at various distances from a busy ATM, so that some of those waiting were in-system and others were out-system. The in-system customers were more likely to remain in line to complete their transaction, the researchers found. A separate study using queue guides showed that the point at which customers initiated task-related actionin this case, taking their ATM cards from their wallets or pursescorresponded to the point at which they crossed the virtual boundary and entered the in-system category.
These findings add to the growing literature on the unconscious effects of environmental cues on motivations and behavior. In addition to its application to everyday tasks, using cues to activate the implemental mindset may have broader implications in cases in which the decision to wait can have serious consequences. For example, motivating patients waiting for a kidney transplant to maintain an optimistic outlook can have a beneficial effect on their well-being. A short call from a nurse could serve as a virtual boundary that grants in-system status and raises patients' spirits, the researchers suggest.
|Contact: Evan Nowell|
Columbia Business School