Discovering new extensions of regulatory focus and fit: a three essay investigation
This thesis examines three research questions under the framework of Regulatory Focus Theory (Higgins, 1997, 1998). These research questions are organized into three essays. The first essay examines the malleability of regulatory construction of goals. I demonstrate that regulatory construction of a goal is subject to goal distance—the perceived discrepancy between current and desired end state. When goal distance is large, the goal is more likely to be construed as a promotion-focused goal; when goal distance is small, the goal is more likely to be construed as a prevention-focused goal. This effect is mediated by the intensity of anticipated affect (pleasure of goal attainment versus pain of goal failure). The second essay examines a fit between sustainability and a prevention focus. I demonstrate that sustainability claims activate prevention concerns in consumers. Consumers make prevention-focused inferences about products of sustainable companies. Finally, regulatory fit between a sustainable product and prevention-focused product claims leads to enhanced product evaluations. The third essay examines the influence of regulatory focus in sequentially presented choice sets. I demonstrate that regulatory focus influences evaluations of equivalent sequentially presented choice alternatives, the amount of search and choice of option form a sequential set. Prevention-focused individuals defer favorable evaluations until choice options presented later in the sequential set. They perform more search compared to promotion-focused individuals and select an option encountered later in the sequence. Theoretical contributions and practical implications of these essays are discussed.