Sensitivity to Varying Gains and Losses: The Role of Self-Discrepancies and Event Framing

C. Miguel Brendl*, E. Tory Higgins, Kristi M. Lemm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Three studies psychophysically measured people's discrimination among different sizes of monetary net gains or net losses. Participants imagined either gains or nonlosses (i.e., net gains) or losses or nongains (i.e., net losses). Participants discriminated more when the identical event was framed as the presence (gains and losses) versus the absence (nonlosses and nongains) of an outcome, presumably because the latter is harder to represent. Discrimination was enhanced when the motivational features of the imagined event were either both the same as or both different from a person's self-discrepancy. Discrimination was reduced when only one of the motivational features was different. A model of excitations, inhibitions, and disinhibitions between mental representation is suggested to account for these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1028-1051
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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