Goal projection and giving help

Gabriele Oettingen, Janet N. Ahn, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Andreas Kappes, Christie L.K. Kawada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Goal projection is the assumption that other persons share goals that we are currently pursuing. Hypothesizing that the projection of one's goal onto another person should affect actual behavior, we observed that goal projection in a situation where help is called for increased both the quantity and the quality of help given (Studies 1 and 2). An implicit measure of goal projection (i.e., a primed lexical decision task) suggested that participants' goals were indeed projected to the target person (Study 2). Varying goal strength via failure versus success feedback verified that goals rather than other concepts (e.g., personal attributes such as traits or self-concepts) were projected (Study 3). The findings imply that goal projection by feigning that the other person has a similar goal affects actual behavior in line with contextual demands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-214
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Goal projection
  • Goal pursuit
  • Help giving
  • Mental associations
  • Shared goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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