Dear Abby: Should I Give Advice or Receive It?

Lauren Eskreis-Winkler*, Ayelet Fishbach, Angela L. Duckworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Typically, individuals struggling with goal achievement seek advice. However, in the present investigation (N = 2,274), struggling individuals were more motivated by giving advice than receiving it. In a randomized, controlled, double-blind field experiment, middle-school students who gave motivational advice to younger students spent more time on homework over the following month than students who received motivational advice from expert teachers (Experiment 1). This phenomenon was replicated across self-regulatory domains: Strugglers who gave advice, compared with those who received expert advice, were more motivated to save money, control their tempers, lose weight, and seek employment (Experiments 2 and 3). Nevertheless, across domains, people erroneously predicted the opposite, expecting themselves and others to be less motivated by giving advice than receiving it (Experiments 2 and 3). Why are people blind to the motivational power of giving? Giving advice motivated givers by raising their confidence—a reality that predictors fail to anticipate (Experiment 4).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1806
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • advice
  • giving
  • goal achievement
  • misprediction
  • motivation
  • open data
  • open materials
  • preregistered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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