Moteevate Uses Psychology to Help You Achieve Your Goals

July 18, 2012

9:05 am

As psychologists continue to study what motivates us – and why our new gym membership gets used once in January then forgotten – New York startup Moteevate is putting their insights into practice.

Moteevate is a social network for achieving goals, from “ace a job interview” to “become vegetarian” to even “achieve happiness.” The site features over 500 “actionplans” – basically, detailed how-to articles plus videos – and you can also set your own goals.

Moteevate was founded by Dr. Dov Biran, who has a PhD from Tel Aviv University. He and his 10-person team have used basics from the psychology of motivation to build features into the site.

Extrinsic motivation. Moteevate is based on extrinsic motivation: external rewards rather than “intrinsic” ones. “Extrinsic motivation is looked at as less ideal,” says social media intern Josh Sack. “But even so, it’s still a very powerful tool.”

For example, a Harvard Unversity study in 2008 showed that students who are working to keep a scholarship have higher completion rates. It appears this is because these students have clearly established goals: a required number of credits and a minimum GPA to keep the scholarship.

In the same way, Moteevate’s actionplans provide precise steps and milestones for achieving your goals. Plus, you can add an extrinsic reward with their Commitment feature: if you don’t accomplish a goal, you agree to give up money to another user, a charity, or an “anti-charity” (one you disagree with – ouch).

Support from others. In addition to a few incentives, a little encouragement goes a long way. According to a 2010 study by Gerald Eisenkopf, people working with a partner on a puzzle will be more interested, and work longer, than people working alone – even if the partner is a stranger.

On Moteevate, you can agree to be a Moteevator for your friends and encourage them in their goals by adding helpful tips or “boosts,” similar to Facebook likes. If your diet has gone off the rails or you just splurged with the money you should have saved, you can use Quickfix to get help or encouragement from 5 random people on the site.

Expert advice. And we don’t need studies to show that assurance from experts – a doctor recommending a diet, or a self-help guru recommending a meditation – can help keep us on track. So Moteevate vets experts to write their actionplans (and experts get 70 percent of the profits).

These features may be simple, but with the lowly rates of New Year’s resolution success, we need all the help we can get.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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