Being needy versus being needed: The role of self-regulatory focus in the experience of breast cancer

N. Frieswijk, M. Hagedoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. Individual differences may exist in the psychological distress that women with breast cancer experience as a result of disease-related changes in both their own needs and the needs of their social environment. In the current study, we investigated whether the negative impact of one's personal needs versus the needs of others depends on the self-regulatory focus of women with breast cancer, that is, the extent to which they are motivated by promotion or prevention goals.

Design and methods. In an on-line survey among 113 women with breast cancer, participants were primed on either their personal needs or the needs of others. Subsequently, women's perception of having been distressed in the past week was measured with the CES-D.

Results. As expected, promotion focus was found to moderate the effect of this experimental manipulation: after concentrating on their own needs, women with breast cancer with a strong promotion focus perceived themselves as having been less distressed in the past week than those with a weak promotion focus, whereas promotion focus was not related to distress when women concentrated on the needs of others. Prevention focus, on the other hand, did not moderate the relationship between the experimental conditions and perceived distress, but it proved to be a strong predictor of perceived distress, independent of whether patients were focusing on their own needs or the needs of others.

Conclusion. By identifying the role of a promotion focus in the relationship between patients' personal needs and their perception of distress, the current study highlights the importance of individual differences in the experience of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2009



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