Impact of study partner status and group membership on commitment device effectiveness among college students
(1) Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai, India, (2) University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Procrastination is a major problem among college students and solutions are urgently needed. This experiment explores the effectiveness of a soft commitment device, a contract taken up voluntarily by a person in order to accomplish their goals, as one possible solution for procrastination. If the commitment is broken, there are psychological consequences (e.g., disapproval or disappointment). We hypothesized that status as defined by educational level and group membership based on music taste of a person’s study partner would affect how well they fulfilled their commitment. To test this hypothesis, we conducted an online experiment wherein 134 participants were randomly assigned study partners of different status (high-status or low-status) and group membership (in-group or out-group). To quantify the effectiveness of the commitment device, we asked them how much time they would commit to studying, had them share the goal with their study partner, and then measured whether they accomplished this goal. We found that status and group membership did not significantly affect the likelihood of college students achieving their committed goals, which may be attributed to how status and group membership were manipulated. We also found a trending but non-significant increase in a participant’s committed study time when their study partner was of low-status. Overall, this experiment shows the potential of soft commitment devices that take advantage of social relationships to reduce procrastination in college students.