Pressed for Time? Goal Conflict Shapes How Time is Perceived, Spent, and Valued

Pressed for Time? Goal Conflict Shapes How Time is Perceived, Spent, and Valued

By Jordan Etkin, Ioannis Evangelidis, Jennifer Aaker
October 30,2014Working Paper No. 3247
Consumers often feel pressed for time, but why? This research provides a novel answer to this question: subjective perceptions of goal conflict. We show that beyond the number of goals competing for their time, perceived conflict between goals makes consumers feel that they have less time. Five experiments demonstrate that perceiving greater conflict between goals makes people feel time constrained, driven by increased stress and anxiety. These effects, which generalize across a variety of goals and types of conflict both related and unrelated to demands on time, impact how consumers spend time as well as how much they are willing to pay to save time. We identify two simple interventions that can help consumers mitigate goal conflict’s negative effects: slow breathing and anxiety reappraisal. Together our findings shed light on what drives how consumers see, spend, and value their time.