How regulatory fit enhances motivational strength during goal pursuit



Higgins' (2000) theory of regulatory fit proposes that motivational strength will be enhanced when the manner in which people work toward a goal sustains (rather than disrupts) their regulatory orientation. This enhanced motivational strength in turn should improve efforts at goal attainment. In Experiment 1, predominantly promotion- and prevention-focused participants were given the goal of writing a report on their leisure time, and were assigned either eagerness- or vigilance-framed means to use. Promotion/eagerness and prevention/vigilance participants were about 50% more likely to turn in their reports than promotion/vigilance and prevention/eagerness participants. In Experiment 2, participants read either a promotion- or a prevention-framed health message urging them to eat more fruits and vegetables, and were then asked to imagine either the benefits of compliance or the costs of non-compliance. Promotion/benefits and prevention/costs participants subsequently ate about 20% more fruits and vegetables over the following week than promotion/costs and prevention/benefits participants. The implications of regulatory fit's enhancement of motivational strength are discussed. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.