A Glimpse Into CPO’s Research Incubator

November 24, 2015

By: Jooa Julia Lee

I have been interested in the seemingly-irrelevant factors that may influence our motivation at work. For example, some of my research looks into how weather can influence worker productivity despite the fact that it is often neglected as an important factor when people think and make plans about how much work they can get done. Recently my colleagues and I began exploring a similar puzzle. People spend not-so-insignificant amounts of time commuting to and from work in a given day, and we already know that long commutes in heavy traffic can have negative effects on work-related attitudes and behavior, such as lower job satisfaction and exhaustion. But we don’t know much about what factors may reduce this negative relationship.

My collaborators (Jon Jachimowicz, Bradley Staats, Francesca Gino, and Jochen Menges) and I examined how people spend their time during their daily commute may influence job-related outcomes. Through a field survey, we found that this relationship between lengthy commutes and negative job-related outcomes is less pronounced for individuals who have high self-control. We then conducted an online survey to show that people who have high self-control are more likely to engage in goal-directed prospection than those who do not have high self-control. In a randomized controlled trial, we sent out weekly text messages for six weeks to the commuters to encourage them to engage in goal-directed prospection, and found that they were more likely to be satisfied with their job and less emotionally exhausted. Our research suggests that commuting time can be viewed as not only a frustrating time to be endured, but also a useful time to engage in goal-directed prospection.

As a speaker and a co-organizer of these meetings, I believe the research incubator offers a psychologically safe environment for the speaker and the audience to share their thoughts on the ongoing research. I am extremely grateful to be part of the exciting intellectual environment that CPO created, and I view the opportunity to expose my thoughts and arguments to the CPO’s community of scholars to be unparalleled.