Hee-Kyung Ahn


In this research, we explore whether mere exposure to external cues with vertical progress (e.g., moving upward or moving downward) can influence individuals’ persistence to complete focal tasks. Drawing on the theory of embodied cognition, we propose that, a moving-upward (vs. downward) cue activates the abstract concept of difficulty, which is associated with the physical experience of climbing uphill (vs. downhill). Due to this association between moving uphill and difficulty, merely exposing individuals to the moving-upward cue can induce greater feeling of difficulty and this greater difficulty, in turn, reduce individuals’ persistence, compared to exposing individuals to the moving-downward cue. Across three studies, we find supporting evidence for the effect of the external cues with vertical progress on individuals’ performance both in physical tasks and in a cognitive task.

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