Struggling with too many debts? A new study has claimed that paying off your small debts first can give you a real boost in eventually paying off all other debts.
Researchers from the Texas A and M University said that meeting a small goal provided the motivation to then meet a larger goal.
In the study, the authors conducted an experiment to test two predictions. The first was that people can motivate themselves to complete a large task by completing a small one first.
The second was that the optimal arrangement of tasks is to have tasks of equal length. That would be the case if the closer someone comes to completing a task, the greater his or her motivation becomes. In the experiment, subjects were asked to retype 150 ten-character strings in a Microsoft Excel workbook.
The authors found that subjects completed a tedious task faster when it was broken up into parts in order of ascending length compared to descending or equal lengths.
Analysing further, the study showed that subjects sped up as they approached the end of Excel columns and slowed down at the beginning of columns, i.e. motivation increased as the end of the task got closer
Authors of the study, Alexander L. Brown and Joanna N. Lahey said that the increased motivational benefits of small victories might make it beneficial to pay off debts from smallest to largest in some cases, ignoring interest rates.
The study is published in the journal Journal of Marketing Research.