431 Anticipating End & Performance

Research by Katzir, Maayan, Emanuel, Aviv, & Liberman, Nira (2020) 

Written by Robin N. Fatovic B.S.

Have you ever done a tedious task and said to yourself, “when will this end?”  

Researchers examined whether anticipating when a task will end would increase motivation to complete it. 80 Tel-Aviv University undergraduate students engaged in a visual computer test. The computer displayed the completed progress to half of the students, so they could anticipate when the exercise would end.  The other half did not see this notification.  

Results? The students who received feedback on their progress through the tasks performed better on them, as they were more motivated to complete them. They also took shorter breaks between tasks and reported less fatigue than the unnotified students. The researchers believe that people tend to conserve their mental energy, but if they know a task will end soon, they will likely use their energy to put in more effort.  

Want to improve the quality of your work? Take more breaks! You will look forward to that reward, when you are working on a tedious task. Break it up into smaller, attainable goals, rather than one large, lengthy goal. You will feel more motivated to work on them, and more accomplished when you achieve them!  


Katzir, M., Emanuel, A., & Liberman, N. (2020). Cognitive performance is enhanced if one knows when the task will end. Cognition, 197, 104189. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104189 

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