Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Interplay of Regulatory Fit and Construal Level in Influencing Behavioral Intention

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Interplay of Regulatory Fit and Construal Level in Influencing Behavioral Intention

Article excerpt

Regulatory orientation is caused by personal particular concerns or interests and influences a person's behavior. Higgins (2000) proposed that when people's strategy for how to achieve a goal accords with their regulatory orientation, they experience regulatory fit that will affect how they perceive and value what they are doing. Researchers have conducted several studies under a variety of regulatory orientation conditions, for example, promotion versus prevention (Avnet, Laufer, & Higgins, 2013; Hong & Lee, 2008), locomotion versus assessment (Kruglanski, Pierro, Higgins, & Capozza, 2007), and fun versus importance (Bianco, Higgins, & Klem, 2003), and their results have firmly supported the presence of a significant effect of regulatory fit. In these studies the researchers pointed out that, depending on the initial hedonic nature of the valuation, when people's strategy and course of action were consistent with their regulatory orientation, they would make a more positive valuation, whereas when their strategy and course of action were inconsistent with their regulatory orientation their valuation would be more negative.

Regulatory Fit and Processing Fluency

Processing fluency is a form of metacognitive experience, and refers to how easy or difficult people find it to process external information (Winkielman, Schwarz, Fazendeiro, & Reber, 2003). Lee and Aaker (2004) found that when people were in a situation where there was a fit between the frame of a message and its content, they experienced greater processing fluency, which, accordingly, prompted a more positive evaluation. Labroo and Lee (2006) found that when there was a fit between the regulatory focus of the target product and the prime product, this enhanced consumers' intention to purchase a target brand and enhanced their evaluation of it. They further found that how easily consumers processed the content of the target advertisement determined how goal consistency affected their brand evaluation. Novemsky, Dhar, Schwarz, and Simonson (2007) suggested that if consumers were not instructed to attribute their preference fluency to another source, they often made a decision in conformity with the experience of preference fluency.

Processing Fluency and Construal Level

In construal level theory, it is posited that there are multiple levels at which to construe the same event or object (Trope & Liberman, 2010), with individuals who are functioning at a high construal level (HCL) emphasizing the end and the desirability of an object, and those functioning at a low construal level (LCL) emphasizing its means and feasibility. The two differential emphases might lead individuals to interpret processing fluency in opposite ways. Tsai and McGill (2011) found that fluency promoted confidence when people processed information at an LCL; however, fluency impaired confidence when they processed information at an HCL. Tsai and Thomas (2011) found that the effects of fluency on judgment and actual behavior could be weakened when the individuals were functioning at an HCL. They further explored the moderating role of construal level and found that HCL participants in their study did not misattribute fluency as a source of value, so that the effects of fluency could be eliminated. On the contrary, participants could not distinguish between subjective experiences, objective information and thought fluency as value, unless they were induced to attribute the experience to an unrelated cause.

Subjective experience has often served as a source of evaluation, for example, in the generalized affect-as-information model of judgment (Pham, 2009). Just as fluency has served as a source of value (Tsai & Thomas, 2011), desirable feelings resulting from regulatory fit have also been used to assess the monetary aspect of a situation and to judge the moral aspect (Avnet & Higgins, 2003; Higgins, Idson, Freitas, Spiegel, & Molden, 2003). …

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