Regulatory focus in the life story: Prevention and promotion as expressed in three layers of personality

Erika M. Manczak*, Claudia Zapata-Gietl, Dan P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Regulatory Focus Theory (Higgins, 1997) outlines the ways in which people attempt to achieve the presence of positive outcomes (promotion) or preserve the absence of negative outcomes (prevention), suggesting that individuals may differ in chronic orientations. The present work examines regulatory outlooks within a multilayered model of personality composed of dispositional traits, characteristic goals, and life stories (narrative identity). Foregrounding the concept of narrative identity, the current study investigates how narrative themes of prevention and promotion relate to regulatory focus as expressed in dispositional traits and characteristic goals and explores the relative contribution of each layer of personality to psychological well-being and physical health. The findings suggest that dispositional traits, personal goals, and life narratives cohere loosely around the central themes of prevention and promotion. Moreover, promotion focus across layers of personality was related to higher levels of self-reported quality of life, compared to prevention focus. Illustrating the incremental validity of different layers of personality, promotion focus in life stories independently predicted psychological health above and beyond promotion focus in dispositional traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Narrative identity
  • Personality coherence
  • Regulatory focus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Regulatory focus in the life story: Prevention and promotion as expressed in three layers of personality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this