Eyes on the prize: The longitudinal benefits of goal focus on progress toward a weight loss goal

Kyle E. Conlon, Joyce Ehrlinger*, Richard P. Eibach, A. William Crescioni, Jessica L. Alquist, Mary A. Gerend, Gareth R. Dutton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Past research suggests that focusing on what has not yet been accomplished (goal focus) signals a lack of progress towards one's high commitment goals and inspires greater motivation than does focusing on what has already been accomplished (accomplishment focus). The present investigation extends this research to a longitudinal, important domain by exploring the consequences of focusing on one's goals versus accomplishments when pursuing a weight loss goal. Participants were tracked over the course of a 12-week weight loss program that utilized weekly group discussions and a companion website to direct participants' focus toward their end weight loss goal or toward what they had already achieved. Goal-focused participants reported higher levels of commitment to their goal and, ultimately, lost more weight than did accomplishment-focused and no focus control participants. Accomplishment-focused participants did not differ from controls on any measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-855
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011


  • Comparison standards
  • Goals
  • Motivation
  • Self-regulation
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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