The Pleasures and Pains of Distinct Self-Construals: The Role of Interdependence in Regulatory Focus
Regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997) distinguishes between self-regulatory processes that focus upon promotion (gain-focused) and prevention (loss-focused) strategies for goal pursuit. Five studies provide support for the hypothesis that these self-regulatory strategies differ for individuals with distinct self-construal patterns that encourage one or another from of goal pursuit. Specifically, individuals with a dominant independent self-construal were predicted to place more emphasis on promotion focused information, whereas those with a dominant interdependent self-construal were predicted to place more emphasis on prevention focus. Support for this hypothesis was obtained for participants who scored high versus low on the Independent-Interdependent scale in the U.S., participants from a western (U.S.) versus eastern (Hong Kong) culture, and participants across cultures who were presented with an independent versus interdependent situation (e.g., individual versus team event). Moreover, the moderating role of interdependence upon regulatory focus could be seen in both importance ratings of promotion vs. prevention framed information, and affective responses consistent with promotion or prevention focus. These results, robut across distinct operationalizations of self-construal, are discussed in light of cultural differences in socialization, self-enhancement motives, and optimism and pessimism. Finally, the findings also underscore the malleability of self-construal within the individual, and may thus help predict when distinct self-regulatory strategies will be invoked.
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