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ERIC Number: EJ993253
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Aug
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0096-3445
The End Justifies the Means, but Only in the Middle
Toure-Tillery, Maferima; Fishbach, Ayelet
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, v141 n3 p570-583 Aug 2012
Achieving goals often requires the completion of sequential actions, such as finishing a series of assignments to pass a class. In the course of pursuing such goals, people can decide how closely to follow their personal standards for each action. We propose that actions at the beginning and end of a sequence appear more diagnostic of the pursuer's personal standards than do actions in the middle. Therefore, people are more likely to adhere to their standards at the beginning and end of goal pursuit--and slack in the middle. We demonstrate this pattern of judgment and behavior in adherence to ethical standards (e.g., cheating), religious traditions (e.g., skipping religious rituals), and performance standards (e.g., "cutting corners" on a task). We also show that the motivation to adhere to standards by using proper means is independent and follows a different pattern from the motivation to reach the end state of goal pursuit. (Contains 5 figures and 1 table.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; Israel