Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Impact of Regulatory Fit on Postdecision Evaluation

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Impact of Regulatory Fit on Postdecision Evaluation

Article excerpt

Motivation is generally conceived as being driven by the approach of pleasure and the avoidance of pain-a basic idea known as the hedonic principle. The flaw in the concept of the hedonic principle is not that it is wrong but that psychologists have relied on it too heavily as an explanation for motivation. Higgins (1997) moved beyond the hedonic principle, and proposed the principle of regulatory focus, according to which self-regulation with a promotion focus is distinguished from self-regulation with a prevention focus. Individuals with a promotion focus are concerned with growth, accomplishments, and aspirations, whereas for those with a prevention focus the concerns are safety, responsibilities, and obligations. Subsequently Higgins (2000) proposed the theory of regulatory fit, in which regulatory fit refers to the match between individuals' regulatory focus and the strategies they use to pursue goals (Avnet & Higgins, 2006). Previous researchers have shown that regulatory fit affects persuasion, negotiation, and leadership (Appelt, Zou, Arora, & Higgins, 2009; Stam, van Knippenberg, & Wisse, 2010). Recently, more researchers have begun to apply regulatory fit theory to decision making, with a particular focus on processing styles. For instance, Mourali and Pons (2009) found that a fit between prevention focus and attribute-based processing and between promotion focus and alternative-based processing, enhanced individuals' satisfaction with their choice. In fact, not only can people use an analytic, cognitive, and rational mode to make decisions, they can also use a heuristic, affective, and intuitive mode to make choices, that is, deliberative versus intuitive decision making (Kahneman, 2003).

Our purpose in this study was to explore the effect of regulatory fit between regulatory focus and decision mode on postdecision evaluation and its underlying mechanism.

Regulatory Fit Effect between Regulatory Focus and Decision Mode

Previous researchers of regulatory focus have demonstrated that during goal pursuit, individuals with a prevention focus generally prefer a vigilant strategy, adopt an analytic processing style, and favor systematic modes of evaluation and accuracy in task completion. In contrast, individuals with a promotion focus generally prefer an eagerness strategy, adopt an explorative processing style, and favor heuristic modes of evaluation and speed in task completion (Förster, Higgins, & Bianco, 2003; Mantel & Kardes, 1999; Pham & Avnet, 2004). Furthermore, according to the dual-processing theory of decision making, deliberative mode is based on cognition and rule, with many typical characteristics, such as being a slow, effortful, sequential, and controlled process. In contrast, intuitive mode is based on feeling and emotion, also with a variety of characteristics, such as being a fast, effortless, parallel, and automatic process (Evans, 2008). In addition, in studies on regulatory fit, it has been demonstrated that individuals with a promotion focus use feeling to make decisions and judgments, whereas those with a prevention focus use reason (Pham & Avnet, 2004). Furthermore, Avnet and Higgins (2006) reported that people with regulatory fit between regulatory focus and evaluation mode (i.e., promotion-feeling, prevention-reason) paid more for their chosen correction fluid, compared to those with regulatory nonfit. Therefore, we proposed the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1a: Promotion-focused individuals in intuitive mode will make a more favorable postdecision evaluation than will those in deliberative mode.

Hypothesis 1b: Prevention-focused individuals in deliberative mode will make a more favorable postdecision evaluation than will those in intuitive mode.

Mechanism of the Regulatory Fit Effect

In most studies on the mechanism of regulatory fit effect the focus has been in the domain of nondecision making, such as persuasion and negotiation (Appelt et al. …

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