The tendency to approach a goal increases with proximity to the goal.


  1. Providing artificial progress towards a goal will help to ensure users are more likley to have the motivation to complete that task.
  2. The closer users are to completing a task, the faster they work towards reaching it.
  3. Motivation can be enhanced by visually representing progress and completion, e.g. progress bars.


The goal-gradient hypothesis, originally proposed by the behaviorist Clark Hull in 1932, states that the tendency to approach a goal increases with proximity to the goal. In a classic experiment that tests this hypothesis, Hull (1934) found that rats in a straight alley ran progressively faster as they proceeded from the starting box to the food. Although the goal-gradient hypothesis has been investigated exten-sively with animals (e.g., Anderson 1933; Brown 1948; for a review, see Heilizer 1977), its implications for human behavior and decision making are understudied. Further-more, this issue has important theoretical and practical implications for intertemporal consumer behavior in reward programs (hereinafter RPs) and other types of motivational systems (e.g., Deighton 2000; Hsee, Yu, and Zhang 2003; Kivetz 2003; Lal and Bell 2003).


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