Regulatory focus theory: Disentangling goals and strategies

Tim Vriend*, Melvyn Hamstra, Ramzi Said, Onne Janssen, Jennifer Jordan, Bernard Nijstad

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The purpose of this research was to develop and test the Regulatory Goals and Strategies Questionnaire (RGSQ) to promote conceptual and empirical clarity in the literature on regulatory focus theory (RFT). According to RFT, construing an end-state as a maximal goal (ideal, gain, and advancement) elicits the adoption of an eager promotion-focused strategy, whereas construing an end-state as a minimal goal (ought, non-loss, and security) elicits the adoption of a vigilant prevention-focused strategy. This means that promotion-focused eagerness and prevention-focused vigilance can be elicited by various goals and that eager and vigilant strategies are in fact separate from goals. However, extant measurement instruments have not treated them as such. The RGSQ was developed to distinguish various maximal and minimal goals and to separate these goals from promotion- and prevention-focused strategies of eagerness and vigilance. Across three studies that combine six samples (total N = 1848), we examined the factor structure and nomological network of the RGSQ (Study 1: four samples of students and adults) and its predictive validity in a task context (Study 2) and working sample (Study 3). Overall, we found support for the RGSQ's validity and demonstrated that the RGSQ operationalizes regulatory focus in accordance with the theory's core assumptions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Psychology-An International Review-Psychologie appliquee-Revue internationale
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8-Feb-2022

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