Regulatory focus and the probability estimates of conjunctive and disjunctive events

Joel Brockner, Srikanth Paruchuri, Lorraine Chen Idson, E. Tory Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Prior research has shown that people overestimate the likelihood of conjunctive events and underestimate the likelihood of disjunctive events. We evaluated whether people's regulatory focus success was related to the magnitude of these judgmental biases. Regulatory focus theory posits that people are guided by two distinct motivational systems - promotion focus and prevention focus. When people are promotion focused they attempt to bring their actual selves into alignment with their ideal selves (standards reflecting wishes and aspirations). When people are prevention focused they attempt to bring their actual selves into alignment with their ought selves (standards reflecting duties and obligations). As predicted, promotion success (i.e., congruence between actual and ideal selves) was positively related to the accuracy of disjunctive probability estimates, whereas prevention success (i.e., congruence between actual and ought selves) was not. Also as predicted, greater prevention success led to more accurate conjunctive probability estimates, whereas greater promotion success did not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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