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Rima Touré-Tillery

Maferima Touré-Tillery | Ph. D. Candidate in Marketing | Email:




Research Interests

Consumer goal pursuit, self-control, ethics, and self-signaling; Anthropomorphism and dehumanization

Rima's main line of research is at the intersection of self-regulation and self-perception, with implications for consumer behavior, marketing and public policy. She is interested in understanding the various factors that make actions, choices or decisions appear more or less diagnostic for inferences about the self, and how perceived self-diagnosticity in turn influences adherence to personal or societal standards (i.e., self-signaling).


Touré-Tillery, Maferima and Ayelet Fishbach (2012), "The end justifies the means, but only in the middle," Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 570-583.

Achieving goals often requires the completion of sequential actions, such as finishing a series of assignments to pass a class. In the course of pursuing such goals, people can decide how closely to follow their personal standards for each action. We propose that actions at the beginning and end of a sequence appear more diagnostic of the pursuer's personal standards than do actions in the middle. Therefore, people are more likely to adhere to their standards at the beginning and end of goal pursuit--and slack in the middle. We demonstrate this pattern of judgment and behavior in adherence to ethical standards (e.g., cheating), religious traditions (e.g., skipping religious rituals), and performance standards (e.g., "cutting corners" on a task). We also show that the motivation to adhere to standards by using proper means is independent and follows a different pattern from the motivation to reach the end state of goal pursuit.

Touré-Tillery, Maferima and Ayelet Fishbach (2011), "The course of motivation," Journal of Consumer Psychology, special issue on Applications of Behavioral Decision Theory, 21(4), 414-423.

This article explores the course of motivation in pursuing various goals. We distinguish between two dimensions of motivation: the motivation to attain a focal goal (outcome-focused dimension) and the motivation to "do things right" in the process of reaching that goal (means-focused dimension). We identify the conditions under which the motivation to reach a focal goal increases versus decreases over the course of goal pursuit. We then propose that the motivation to "do things right" follows a u-shaped pattern, such that it is higher at the beginning and end of goal pursuit than in the middle. We discuss findings from consumer research and social psychology with important implications for understanding and modifying behavior in the pursuit of various consumption goals.


Fishbach, Ayelet and Maferima Touré-Tillery (forthcoming),"Goals and Motivation," In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology, Champaign, IL: DEF Publishers.

This chapter provides an overview of the main theories and findings on goals and motivation. We address the origins, manifestations and types of goals, and the various factors that influence motivation in goal pursuit. We further address goal conflict and, specifically, the exercise of self-control in protecting long-term goals from momentary temptations.

Work Under Review & Revision

Touré-Tillery, Maferima and Ayelet Fishbach. "It wasn't me: How self-concept considerations influence self-control" Under review.

This research tests the hypothesis that individuals exercise restraint for choices that reflect on their self-concept. Experiment 1 finds framing a choice as being at the beginning or end versus middle of a constructed sequence (illusory positions) makes it seem more diagnostic for inferences about the self. Accordingly, Experiment 2 finds less indulgence in snack choices at the illusory beginning and end versus middle. Furthermore, goal importance--which reflects the goal's centrality for one's self-concept--determines responses to illusory positions. Specifically, participants committed to health goals (Experiment 3), financial goals (Experiment 4), and intellectual goals (Experiment 5) were more likely to make decisions consistent with these goals at the illusory beginning or end, but indulge and splurge in the middle. These results demonstrate choices vary in the extent to which they elicit self-concept considerations, and people exercise restraint for choices that "count" for their self-concept.

Touré-Tillery, Maferima and Ann L. McGill. "Who or what to believe: Trust and the differential persuasiveness of human and dehumanized spokespersons," Under revision for Journal of Marketing.

Communicators often anthropomorphize products, diseases and other abstract concepts, thus portraying them as--less human or dehumanized--spokespersons in persuasive appeals. This article tests our hypothesis that message recipients' levels of interpersonal trust will determine their responses to persuasive appeals "delivered" by such dehumanized agents. Specifically, we show that individuals low in trust are more persuaded by messages from dehumanized (vs. human) messengers, whereas individuals high in trust are equally or less persuaded by these dehumanized (vs. human) agents (Experiments 1 and 2). Furthermore, we find these differential persuasiveness effects are mediated by the perceived credibility of the messenger (Experiment 3). We theorize that for low trusters, who by definition are inclined to mistrust human agents, dehumanized spokespersons do not trigger distrust to the same extent that human ones do, and hence are seen as more credible. By contrast, for high trusters--who by definition trust people--lessening the humanity of spokesperson may have the opposite effect of lowering credibility.

Work in Progress

Making an Impact on the Self: How Colors and Sounds Promote Adherence to Prosocial Goals | with Ayelet Fishbach


Selves to spare: Self-complexity as a license to misbehave | with Aly Light and Ayelet Fishbach


Distance and influence | with Ayelet Fishbach


Perfection aversion: Is flawed better than perfect? | with Jane L. Risen


Partial anthropomorphism: When less is more | with Ann L. McGill and Pankaj Aggarwal


Measures of motivation | with Ayelet Fishbach

Conference & Invited Presentations

"It wasn't me: How self-concept considerations influence self-control," Society for Consumer Psychology, International Conference (ESCP, Florence, Italy, July 2012)


"It wasn't me: How self-concept considerations influence self-control," Society for the Study of Motivation (SSM, Chicago IL, May 2012)


"It wasn't me: The effect of perceived self-diagnosticity on adherence to standards and goals," University of Virginia, Department of Psychology & Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy (Invited talk, Charlottesville VA, March 2012)


"When Middle Rhymes with Candies and Shopping Sprees: The Effect of Illusory Position on Self-Control," Society for Consumer Psychology (SCP, Las Vegas NV, February 2012)


"The problem with self-control," Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP, San Diego CA, January 2012)


"Slacking in the middle: Relaxing standards in the course of goal pursuit," Association for Consumer Research (ACR, Jacksonville FL, October 2010)


"Who or what to believe: Trust and the differential persuasiveness of anthropomorphized and human agents," Association for Consumer Research (ACR, Jacksonville FL, October 2010)


"Slacking in the middle: Relaxing standards in the course of goal pursuit," Behavioral Decision Research in Management (BDRM, Pittsburgh PA, June 2010)


[last update: Apr 2013]


Last Updated 7/10/09