Goal Achievement Technique: Copy the strategies of your peers who aretaking the actions you want to take(University of Pennsylvania,2020)


Purpose and Background of the Research

Many people struggle to achieve even the goals they set for themselves.
Previous research has shown that this is due to a lack of informationon how to approach the goals.
And we know that having a mentor can solve this problem.
However, having the right mentor is often difficult and can backfirein some cases.
So, this study tested a new method to increase the rate of goal achievement.

Research Methods

Type of ResearchRandomized controlled trial
Experimental Participant1,028 men and women
Outline of the experiment
  1. Participants were asked how many hours of exercise they had done inthe last week.
  2. Participants were randomly divided into three groups.
  3. Each group was given a following different condition.
    • Group 1
      Participants were asked to hear from their peers about effectivestrategies for exercising.
      And the participants were also asked to copy the strategies.
    • Group 2
      The researcher taught the participants in Group 2 any strategy thatwas raised in Group 1.
      And the participants were also asked to copy the strategy.
    • Group 3
      Participants in Group 3 were not given any specific instructionsregarding exercise.
  4. The researchers looked at the amount of time each group spentexercising during the week that followed.

Research Findings

  • Listening to and copying the strategies of your peers who are doingwell is a great way to develop new habits.In this study, hearing and imitating the strategies of their peers iscalled a copy-paste prompt.
    • Group 1 exercised 32.5 minutes more than Group 2.
    • Group 1 exercised 55.8 minutes more than Group 3.
  • Men benefit more from copy-paste prompts than women.
  • Why the copy-paste prompt works
    • The technique itself that you copy is effective
    • The fact that your peers have taught you motivates you.
    • The fact that you actively asked your peers on your own is motivating.
    • Even after being taught, it's motivating you to talk with your peersabout what you've been taught.


Other reasons to recommend the method of copying the strategies ofyour peers include the following.

  • The information is more customized and goal-relevant, since you selectpeers whose behavior you want to emulate.
  • Actively searching for information yourself can lead you to value itmore than if you had received the same advice passively.
    This is because people find more value in things they design and customize.


Reference PaperAngela et al., 2020
AffiliationsUniversity of Pennsylvania
Journalthe Association for Consumer Research
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