Promotion and prevention choices between stability and change

Nira Liberman, Lorraine Chen Idson, Christopher J. Camacho, E. Tory Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two situations involving choice between stability and change were examined: task substitution, which deals with choosing between resuming an interrupted activity and doing a substitute activity, and endowment, which deals with choosing between a possessed object and an alternative object. Regulatory focus theory (E. T. Higgins, 1997, 1998) predicts that a promotion focus will be associated with openness to change, whereas a prevention focus will be associated with a preference for stability. Five studies confirmed this prediction with both situational induction of and chronic personality differences in regulatory focus. In Studies 1 and 2, individuals in a prevention focus were more inclined than individuals in a promotion focus to resume an interrupted task rather than do a substitute task. In Studies 3-5, individuals in a prevention focus, but not individuals in a promotion focus, exhibited a reluctance to exchange currently possessed objects (i.e., endowment) or previously possessed objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1145
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


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