Determining preference for potential: The role of perceived economic mobility

Chen Yang1, Shaochen Zhao2
1Department of Marketing, South China University of Technology, People’s Republic of China
2China People's Police University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Yang, C., & Zhao, S. (2019). Determining preference for potential: The role of perceived economic mobility. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 47, e8019.

Volume 47 Issue 6 | e8019 | Published: June 2019 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.8019

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Although previous researchers have demonstrated that people often prefer potential rather than achievement when evaluating other people or products, few have focused on the boundary conditions on this effect. We proposed that the preference for potential would emerge when individuals’ perception of economic mobility was high, but the preference for achievement would emerge among individuals with low perceptions of economic mobility. Our results showed that people paid more attention to the future (vs. the present) when their perception of economic mobility was high; this, in turn, promoted more favorable reactions toward potential (vs. achievement). Thus, we suggested circumstances under which highlighting a person’s potential for future success is effective and those when it is not effective. Moreover, we revealed the important role of individual perceptions regarding economic mobility in driving this effect.

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