Being creative in research sometimes is about challenging taken
for granted ideas, and investigating the opposite of what other
researchers are doing, as recently demonstrated in a research
seminar at ESCP Europe Business School. Take a widely accepted fact
in the pop culture: envisioning a positive future increases
motivation and results in real success. But is this actually always
the case? No, according to a series of research papers presented by
Dr Heather Kappes from the London School of Economics and Political
Science (LSE), during the Creativity Marketing Centre research
Dr Kappes researches motivation and goal pursuit, and is
particularly interested in identifying unintended and potentially
undesired consequences of individual and group self-regulatory
strategies. In her presentation, Dr Kappes highlighted several ways
in which imagining a positive future could actually be detrimental
to a positive outcome. Why is this so? Because, according to Dr
Kappes, "imagining an idealized future allows it to be mentally
enjoyed in the present, rather smoothly and easily, leaving people
unprepared to invest many resources (i.e., much effort, money,
time) to actually attain it.". These, findings, as Dr Kappes
highlighted, do not mean that consumers should never envision a
positive future, but it highlights when doing so is likely to have
a positive outcome. For instance, Dr Kappes suggests that when
acting toward the imagined future demands many resources, positive
fantasies dampen rather than boost action.
Photos from the session.
Dr Kappes research can be read in the following
Kappes, Heather Barry, Eesha Sharma, & Gabriele Oettingen.
(in press). Positive fantasies dampen charitable giving when many
resources are demanded. Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Kappes, Heather Barry, & Gabriele Oettingen. (2012). Wishful
information preference: Positive fantasies mimic the effect
of intentions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38,
Kappes, Heather Barry, Bettina Schwörer, & Gabriele
Oettingen (2012). Needs instigate positive fantasies of idealized
futures. European Journal of Social Psychology [Special Issue:
Mental Time Travel], 42, 299-307.
Kappes, Heather Barry, Gabriele Oettingen, & Doris Mayer.
(2012). Positive fantasies predict low academic achievement in
disadvantaged students. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42,