Do behavioral observations make people catch the goal? A meta-analysis on goal contagion

Hilmar Brohmer*, Lisa Eckerstorfer, Robbie C. M. van Aert, Katja Corcoran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Goal contagion is a social-cognitive approach to understanding how other people's behavior influences one's goal pursuit: An observation of goal-directed behavior leads to an automatic inference and activation of the goal before it can be adopted and pursued thereafter by the observer. We conducted a meta-analysis focusing on experimental studies with a goal condition, depicting goal-directed behavior and a control condition. We searched four databases (PsychInfo, Web of Science, ScienceDirect, and JSTOR) and the citing literature on Google Scholar, and eventually included e = 48 effects from published studies, unpublished studies and registered reports based on 4751 participants. The meta-analytic summary effect was small - g = 0.30, 95%CI [0.21; 0.40], tau(2) = 0.05, 95%CI [0.03, 0.13] - implying that goal contagion might occur for some people, compared to when this goal is not perceived in behavior. However, the original effect seemed to be biased through the current publication system. As shown by several publication-bias tests, the effect could rather be half the size, for example, selection model: g = 0.15, 95%CI [-0.02; 0.32]. Further, we could not detect any potential moderator (such as the presentation of the manipulation and the contrast of the control condition). We suggest that future research on goal contagion makes use of open science practices to advance research in this domain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Review of Social Psychology
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • goal contagion
  • goal pursuit
  • automatic inference
  • meta-analysis
  • publication bias
  • ESTIMATING EFFECT SIZE
  • PUBLICATION BIAS
  • CONDUCTING METAANALYSES
  • PURSUIT
  • POWER
  • REPLICATION
  • MOTIVATION
  • MOTIVES
  • OBJECT
  • MODELS

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