Effort Justification (part 2) – Making invested efforts visible

14.06.2016 Daniel Kostyra

Julia already has the status “moderator” in the brand community where she has been active for a few months. That’s why there are 5 golden stars shimmering above her profile picture. And Tobias has already taken part in three surveys by an airline and received the red bonus-mile card for it (he’s “only” had the blue one before). The stars as well as the special loyalty card promote their liking towards the brands. But why?


If you take the findings of the effort-justification theory as a basis, people tend to try to balance their actions or rather a performed effort with their attitude (“5 stars… Why am I spending this much time in this brand community?”). One option to do this is the correction of your own attitude in order to better justify your own behavior (“I am doing this because I like the brand!”). So the more time you spend on activities for a brand, the more you (theoretically) start liking it - either, because you build up a true liking or because you, at least partially, tell yourself. A manifestation of the already invested time, e. g. in form of a special loyalty card, helps to reinforce this effect.

Because de facto neither Julia nor Tobias have a monetary advantage, yet they experience a status update that is linked to their interaction. This can, on the one hand, be perceived as psychological switching costs, since Julia wants to keep her moderator status. But on the other hand it makes it tangible for the two how much time and effort they have already invested into the brands. Unconscious effect: They develop a positive attitude towards the brands.

In which form companies promote interaction and subsequently visualize it can vary drastically. But already the active reminder of the duration of the existing client relationship can cause this effect. Because someone, who has been loyal for a long time, has to ask himself what the reason for it is. When in doubt, the satisfaction with the product / the service. Because who wants to admit to themselves that they have accepted a lesser quality for years.