Regulatory Focus and Interdependent Economic Decision-Making

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Forthcoming

Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2177557

Posted: 20 Nov 2012

See all articles by Vanessa K. Bohns

Vanessa K. Bohns

Cornell University

Jun Gu

Monash University - Department of Management

Geoffrey J. Leonardelli

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; University of Toronto - Department of Psychology

Date Written: 2012

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.

Keywords: regulatory focus, economic outcomes, relative value, absolute value, interdependence, social orientations

Suggested Citation

Bohns, Vanessa K. and Gu, Jun and Leonardelli, Geoffrey J., Regulatory Focus and Interdependent Economic Decision-Making (2012). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Forthcoming, Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2177557, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2177557

Vanessa K. Bohns (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

394 Ives Faculty Bldg
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Jun Gu

Monash University - Department of Management ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3168
Australia

Geoffrey J. Leonardelli

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
1-416-946-0731 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/FacultyAndResearch/Faculty/FacultyBios/Leonardelli.aspx

University of Toronto - Department of Psychology ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
1-416-946-0731 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/FacultyAndResearch/Faculty/FacultyBios/Leonardelli.aspx

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