The Fresh Start Effect: Breaking Points in Life Motivate Virtuous Behavior

The Fresh Start Effect: Breaking Points in Life Motivate Virtuous Behavior

Hengchen Dai University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School

Katherine L. Milkman University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School

Jason Riis Harvard Business School

January 20, 2013
The Wharton School Research Paper No. 51

Many view the commencement of each New Year as an opportunity for a fresh start, which motivates them to pursue virtuous goals. We demonstrate that this well-known uptick in virtuous behavior following New Year’s is just one example of a broader phenomenon, which we refer to as the ‘fresh start effect.’ Specifically, special (and mundane) occasions in our lives and calendar events demarcate the passage of time (e.g., a promotion, a birthday, the beginning of a new week/month), creating many breaking points in each year. We show that these breaking points generate fresh start feelings, which are stronger at meaningful discontinuities and motivate subsequent virtuous behavior such as exercise and dieting. We propose and show that the fresh start feelings associated with breaking points originate from a psychological disassociation from our past self and belief that we are more like our ideal selves at the beginning of a new period.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: