When to begin? Regulatory focus and initiating goal pursuit

Antonio L. Freitas*, Nira Liberman, Peter Salovey, E. Tory Higgins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors propose that a prevention focus fosters preferences to initiate action earlier than does a promotion focus. Data from four studies either measuring or manipulating regulatory focus support this proposal. Participants in a prevention focus preferred initiating academic (Studies 1 and 2) and nonacademic (Study 3) actions sooner than did participants in a promotion focus. Participants working through a set of anagrams solved those that were prevention framed before those that were promotion framed (Study 4). Moreover, regulatory focus and perceived task valence each accounted for unique variance in participants' task-initiation preferences (Study 3). The findings' implications are discussed for task choice, susceptibility to distraction, and other aspects of self-regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


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