Oettingen, G., Ahn, J. T., Gollwitzer, P. M., Kappes, A., & Kawada, C. L. K. (2014). Goal projection and giving help. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 54, 204-214
Goal projection is the assumption that other persons share goals that we are currently pursuing. Hypothesizing that the projection of one's goal onto another person should affect actual behavior, we observed that goal projection in a situation where help is called for increased both the quantity and the quality of help given (Studies 1 and 2). An implicit measure of goal projection (i.e., a primed lexical decision task) suggested that participants' goals were indeed projected to the target person (Study 2). Varying goal strength via failure versus success feedback verified that goals rather than other concepts (e.g., personal attributes such as traits or self-concepts) were projected (Study 3). Thefindings imply that goal projection by feigning that the other person has a similar goal affects actual behavior in line with contextual demands.