4.13 Regulatory Focus Theory

According to self-regulatory focus, people have either promotion focus (presence of desirable outcomes) or prevention focus (absence of undesirable outcomes). Promotion focus people tend to focus on growth, aspirations, achievement, while presentation focus people have an orientation towards safety or vigilance (Lee and Aaker 2004). Hence, advertisers (promotion-focused or prevention-focused) can create messages depend on their audience (Aaker and Lee 2001). Regulatory focus can depend on culture (western is more promotion focus as compared to eastern more prevention focus (Lee, Aaker, and Gardner 2000)), products (home-security or massage chairs), environment (e.g., 2000 bubble bursts induce investors to be more prevention-focused).


Aaker, Jennifer L., and Angela Y. Lee. 2001. I Seek Pleasures and We Avoid Pains: The Role of Self-Regulatory Goals in Information Processing and Persuasion.” Journal of Consumer Research 28 (1): 33–49. https://doi.org/10.1086/321946.
Lee, Angela Y., and Jennifer L. Aaker. 2004. “Bringing the Frame into Focus: The Influence of Regulatory Fit on Processing Fluency and Persuasion.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86 (2): 205–18. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.86.2.205.
Lee, Angela Y., Jennifer L. Aaker, and Wendi L. Gardner. 2000. “The Pleasures and Pains of Distinct Self-Construals: The Role of Interdependence in Regulatory Focus.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78 (6): 1122–34. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.78.6.1122.