Role of regulatory focus in the asymmetric perception of gains versus nonlosses and of losses versus nongains

Yanwei Shi1, Fuming Xu2, Zhuang She3, Peng Xiang4, Hui Zhang1
1School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, People’s Republic of China
2School of Psychology, Jiangxi Normal University, People’s Republic of China
3School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, and School of Psychology, Shanghai Institute of Technology, People’s Republic of China
4School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Shi, Y., Xu, F., She, Z., Xiang, P., & Zhang, H. (2019). Role of regulatory focus in the asymmetric perception of gains versus nonlosses and of losses versus nongains. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 47, e7891.

Volume 47 Issue 6 | e7891 | Published: June 2019 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.7891

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We tested the effects of regulatory focus on the asymmetric perception of losses versus nongains and of gains versus nonlosses. In Experiment 1, situational regulatory focus was manipulated by a priming task and then participants evaluated the outcome fairness of different distribution scenarios. In Experiment 2, participants completed the Regulatory Focus Questionnaire and then evaluated the outcome fairness of various distribution scenarios. Results showed that: (a) The gains versus nonlosses asymmetry in perceived fairness was stronger with a situational promotion focus, and the losses versus nongains asymmetry in perceived unfairness was stronger with a situational prevention focus; (b) The losses versus nongains asymmetry in perceived unfairness was stronger with a chronic prevention focus, whereas the gains versus nonlosses asymmetry in perceived fairness was positive with both a chronic promotion focus and chronic prevention focus. Taken together, the findings demonstrate that a situational regulatory focus has more extensive effects than does a chronic regulatory focus on asymmetric perceptions of outcomes. These results offer insights for understanding the differences between chronic and situational regulatory focus.

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