Regulatory Focus in Predictions About Others

Karl-Andrew Woltin, Vincent Yzerbyt

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Based on social projection research four studies investigated whether people rely on their own regulatory focus when making predictions about others (Higgins, 1997, 1998). Chronic (Study 1) and induced (Study 2) regulatory focus shaped estimations of others’ strategic promotion or prevention inclinations and choices between enriched (fitting promotion) and impoverished options (fitting prevention). Providing indirect process evidence via boundary conditions, participants only relied on their induced regulatory focus in predictions of others’ inclinations to seek romantic alternatives to the extent that this did not run counter to stereotypic gender beliefs (Study 3). Additionally, participants only relied on their induced regulatory focus in preference predictions concerning promotion and prevention products when they lacked idiosyncratic target knowledge (Study 4). These effects were not mediated by mood, judgment-certainty, perceived task-enjoyment or task-difficulty. Implications of these findings for social projection research as well as possible interpersonal consequences are delineated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-392
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • regulatory focus
  • projection
  • egocentrism
  • social judgment
  • person perception

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