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Leveraging Means–Goal Associations to Boost Children’s Water Consumption: A Four-School Three-Month Field Experiment, Journal of Association of Consumer Research


We collaborated with UNICEF and launched a field experiment in Panamá to test the effectiveness of communicating different means–goal associations in promoting children’s consumption of water. This research is the first to examine whether interventions that operate by highlighting strong means–goal associations have real consequences outside the lab in the noisy real world. Also important, means-goal associations have previously been examined among adults. Because prior research reveals that children and adults often respond differently to persuasion attempts, important theoretical insight is gained by investigating whether children’s use of a means can be increased by interventions that highlight means–goal associations. This research is also the first to explore whether highlighting means–goal associations of different strengths can produce not only positive but also negative effects. Specifically, we find that interventions that employ weak means-goal associations can backfire. This research advances the extant understanding of the divergent impact of means–goal associations on behavior, uncovers an intervention that increases children’s consumption of water, and provides valuable managerial implications as well as food-for-thought for future research.




Michal Maimaran, Daniella Kupor, Andrea Weihrauch, Szu-chi Huang

Date Published



Maimaran, Michal, Daniella Kupor, Andrea Weihrauch, and Szu-chi Huang. 2019. Leveraging Means–Goal Associations to Boost Children’s Water Consumption: A Four-School Three-Month Field Experiment. Journal of Association of Consumer Research.(1): 77-86.


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