| Apr. 18th, 2014

Watching Others Succeed Can Lower Motivation

Have you ever lost motivation after seeing others succeed at work?

You are not alone, according to a new joint study by researchers from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Idaho State University, McGill University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which was published in the May issue of Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

In a psychological phenomenon they are calling "vicarious goal satiation," the researchers found that individuals feel a sense of accomplishment from watching others achieve their goals, and this in turn actually makes them less motivated to achieve the same goal themselves.

In the experiment, one group of people saw puzzles being completed on a video screen. The other groups either did not see the puzzle being solved or they saw no puzzles at all. Then these groups of people were asked to do the puzzles themselves. Those who watched the puzzles being completed ended up being the least successful with their own puzzles.

"Our findings have important functional implications for the workplace," aid Grainne Fitzsimons of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. s "In staff meetings, employees may mistake a discussion of what needs to be done for actual progress toward a goal. Similarly, one employee's success might actually de-motivate others to work hard. If we are aware of this pitfall, managers can try to avoid it by making it clear that positive feedback is directed at the individual and not shared by others who didn't take part in the success."

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