An image of what I want to achieve: How visions motivate goal pursuit

Julian Voigt, Marius Jais, Hugo M. Kehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a rapidly changing world, leaders are constantly searching for effective ways to motivate employees and drive change. Management scholars agree that an essential tool for inspiring and motivating employees is to communicate a clear vision of the future. Yet, there remains a significant gap in understanding how and why visions actually move individuals to action. The current study investigated the effects of visions on goal-pursuit in comparison to merely listing a “superordinate goal.” We argue that visions, that are high in mental imagery, are motivationally effective because (a) visions evoke positive affect, (b) vision-evoked positive affect spills over to goals derived from the vision, leading to affectively charged goals, (c) affectively charged goals are predictive of increased commitment, and (d) increased commitment contributes to goal progress. In a first experimental study (N = 128), the findings suggest that visions and vision-derived goals were both higher in positive affect than our control condition. In a second experimental study (N = 323), we replicated our results from Study 1. In addition, we extended these findings and showed that visions predict goal progress via vision-evoked positive affect, positive anticipatory affect related to prospective vision-derived goal attainment, and goal commitment. Taken together, our studies contribute to research on visions and goals by showing that visions exert their motivational effects by affectively charging activities related to them. From a practical perspective, our studies highlight the importance of visions as an effective tool in motivating work-related behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Goals
  • Motivation
  • Positive affect
  • Vision pursuit
  • Visions


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