How preferences for eager versus vigilant judgment strategies affect self-serving conclusions

Daniel C. Molden*, E. Tory Higgins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


People are often motivated to reach self-serving conclusions during judgment. This article examines how such self-serving judgment outcomes are influenced by preferences for different judgment strategies. Two studies tested how preferences for eager (promotion-oriented) versus vigilant (prevention-oriented) judgment strategies affected self-serving explanations for success or failure. Regardless of their performance, those preferring vigilant strategies selectively endorsed a few explanations above others, whereas those preferring eager strategies more evenly endorsed multiple explanations. Furthermore, although the explanations selected by those preferring vigilant strategies were indeed self-serving (emphasizing personal responsibility for success and external circumstances for failure), the more balanced endorsement of multiple explanations by those preferring eager strategies was associated with attenuated self-serving tendencies. Finally, those preferring eager strategies were also less self-serving in their generalization from explanations of current performance to predictions of future performance. The larger implications of these findings for the role of strategic preferences in judgment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1219-1228
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Motivated cognition
  • Performance attributions
  • Prevention motivations
  • Promotion motivations
  • Regulatory focus
  • Self-inference
  • Strategic preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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