If we have the will, there will be a way: regulatory focus as a group identity


  • Some of the results reported in this paper were presented at the “Self-regulation and Intergroup Phenomena” small-group meeting in Jena (17–19 July, 2005).


Based on social identity theory and regulatory focus theory, we predicted that promotion and prevention strategies can be part of the identity of a group (i.e., collective regulatory focus) which in turn influences the behavior and experienced emotions of individual group members. We conducted two experiments to test this prediction. After assessing participants' personal regulatory focus preference, collective regulatory focus was induced by showing participants group mottos, allegedly chosen by other members of their group, that either voiced a promotion or a prevention strategy preference. Both experiments yielded evidence for our prediction in that the collective regulatory focus shifted the behavior of individual group members on a signal detection task towards promotion- (liberal bias) or prevention- (conservative bias) consistent behavior and influenced the emotions they experienced. Experiment 2 further substantiated our group identity rationale by showing that these effects were especially strong for high identifiers. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.