Promotion and prevention focus on alternative hypotheses: Implications for attributional functions

Nira Liberman*, Daniel C. Molden, Lorraine Chen Idson, E. Tory Higgins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Five studies examined hypothesis generation and discounting in causal attribution from the perspective of regulatory focus theory (E. T. Higgins, 1997, 1998). According to this theory, a promotion focus is associated with generating more and simultaneously endorsing multiple hypotheses, whereas a prevention focus is associated with generating only a few hypotheses and selecting 1 hypothesis from a given set. Five studies confirmed these predictions for both situationally induced and chronic individual differences in regulatory focus. In Studies 1, 2, and 3, individuals in a promotion focus generated more hypotheses than individuals in a prevention focus. In Studies 4 and 5, individuals in a promotion focus discounted explanations in light of alternatives less than individuals in a prevention focus. Study 5 also found that in a promotion focus, person explanations were generalized across situations less than in a prevention focus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes

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