Regulatory focus and interdependent economic decision-making

Jun Gu, Vanessa K Bohns, Geoffrey J Leonardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Traditional theories of self-interest cannot predict when individuals pursue relative and absolute economic outcomes in interdependent decision-making, but we argue that regulatory focus (Higgins, 1997) can. We propose that a concern with security (prevention focus) motivates concerns with social status, leading to the regulation of relative economic outcomes, but a concern with growth (promotion focus) motivates the maximization of opportunities, leading to a focus on absolute outcomes. Two studies supported our predictions; regardless of prosocial or proself motivations, a promotion focus yielded greater concern with absolute outcomes, but a prevention focus yielded greater concern with relative outcomes. Also, Study 3 revealed that a prevention focus led to a greater rejection of a negative relative but positive absolute outcome in an ultimatum game because of concerns with status. This research reveals that apparently opposing orientations to interdependence - equality and relative gain - serve the same self-regulatory purpose: the establishment of security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692 - 698
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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