Motivation & effort increase as users get closer to their goals. A 10-space coffee card pre-stamped twice will be completed faster than an 8 with no pre-stamps.
Uber highlighted progress during wait times by explaining each granular step going on behind the scenes, like identifying other riders travelling the same way and finding a car for the trip. Additional information—for example, explaining the arrival time estimate calculation—could be provided by clicking an info icon. Their team tested these ideas in an A/B experiment and observed an 11 per cent reduction in the post-request cancellation rate.
Another example of a progress bar:
If the perception of the reward remains too far off, then people are unlikely to exhibit goal-gradient behaviour. For example, if the process of profile completion or the form filling pages is too many, it is likely they might drop off from the progress even if we try to chunk the information in different phases/steps. Thus, it will be more effective in situations where we have limited steps or substeps and we are always giving a clearer picture about the goal to achieve.
Hull, C. L. (1932). The goal-gradient hypothesis and maze learning. Psychological Review, 39(1), 25–43. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0072640
Cryder, C. E., Loewenstein, G., & Seltman, H. (2013). Goal gradient in helping behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(6), 1078–1083. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2013.07.003
Kivetz, R., Urminsky, O., & Zheng, Y. (2006). The goal-gradient hypothesis resurrected: Purchase acceleration, illusionary goal progress, and customer retention. Journal of Marketing Research, 43(1), 39–58. https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.43.1.39
Nunes, J. C., & Drèze, X. (2006). The endowed progress effect: How artificial advancement increases effort. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(4), 504–512. https://doi.org/10.1086/500480