Four studies identify and examine a temporal component to regulatory focus. Results support the assertion that promotion focus tends to predominate for temporally distant goals, whereas proximal goals are characterized by more balanced consideration of both promotion- and prevention-focused concerns. In Study 1, students rated the importance of promotion and prevention goals at two points in time: 2 weeks before and a few minutes before an examination. Promotion goal importance increased with temporal distance, whereas prevention goal importance remained constant over time. Study 2 replicated this pattern holding the actual time-span constant (3.5 weeks) and varying only the psychological sense of proximity/distance. In Study 3, subjects rated the regulatory focus of goals at varying points in time, both future and past. The temporal effect was replicated for both time periods. Study 4 provided evidence for the reverse effect, that of regulatory focus on the perceived temporal distance of future goals. Taken together, these findings suggest an integration across research domains that links regulatory focus to temporal perspective for both prospective and retrospective judgments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science