Time, Space and Getting Things Done



In this paper, we study a consumer who needs to accomplish a certain task that is due D days from now. Does the motivation to start working on that task change if the D-day duration ends in the same period (say, the same month or year) as the present, or in the next period? We hypothesize that duration markers – salient events that consumers use to mark the passage of time – categorize future durations into two periods. In a series of studies, we show that, holding the actual duration between the present and a deadline constant, consumers are more likely to initiate a task (i.e. open a bank account and start working on a consulting project in Study 1, and prepare for a trip in Study 2), more impatient towards a future consumption (Study 4), and more committed to a planned activity (Study 5), when the target event occurs before (vs. beyond) a salient duration marker. Further, we directly tested whether these effects are driven by a motivational mechanism (i.e. events that occur before marker put people into an implemental mindset), or a cognitive one (i.e. events that occur before marker seem closer), and found evidence for the mindset explanation.

Dilip Soman is Corus Professor of Communications Strategy. Soman is trained as an engineer, as an MBA, and then he did his doctoral work in marketing and behavioural sciences – a field that later came to be known as behavioural economics. To earn a living, he does a few things. First, he studies interesting human behaviours, tries to understand them and then tries to use them in a manner to get people to behave in a manner that is good for them. Second, I teach. I’ve taught at various levels (ranging from undergraduates to senior executives) and various courses (behavioural economics, managerial decision making, negotiations, creativity and innovations, marketing, data driven marketing, CRM, pricing, and new products). Third, he does consulting and research in collaboration with many organizations.

This research seminar is organised by the Erasmus Centre for Marketing of Innovation (ECMI).
Contact information:
Dr. G. Liberali