Fear Is Stronger Motivator than Hope

Photo: Two men cycling

Motivation is the key to sports
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Researchers at the University of Bath, UK, interviewed 281 male and female undergraduates and got half to imagine a physically unattractive version of themselves they feared they might turn into. They then asked this group to either imagine a scenario in which they dramatically failed to keep to a fitness programme or one in which they dramatically succeeded.

The researchers found that those who had been asked to think about a dramatic failure to keep to the programme were motivated to keep on training because they were fearful of not looking good. Those who were asked to imagine they were succeeding in getting fit became less motivated to continue at the gym because they no longer had this fear of not looking good.

The findings reveal why marketing works or doesn’t work for some products like gyms to get a better body or cosmetics to reduce wrinkles. The study shows that fear of failure motivates people more than gaining some success, which demotivates them. This fear of failure is particularly strong when people feel they can already see signs of the feared self they are striving to avoid.

“How consumers see themselves in the future has a strong effect on how motivated they are to keep using a product or service,” said Professor Brett Martin, of the University of Bath’s School of Management, who carried out the study with Dr Rana Sobh of Qatar University. “When people dwell on a negative future, fear motivates them, yet as they move away from their feared state – a flabby body, or a wrinkled skin – they become less motivated.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Bath