Regulatory focus and the self-licensing effect: A motivational account of behavioural consistency and balancing

Lalot, Fanny and Falomir-Pichastor, Juan Manuel and Quiamzade, Alain. (2022) Regulatory focus and the self-licensing effect: A motivational account of behavioural consistency and balancing. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 79. p. 101731.

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People generally tend to stay consistent in their attitudes and behaviour, including proenvironmental actions. However, they can feel entitled to act less-than-virtuously when an initial "virtuous" (or proenvironmental) action provides an excuse to do so -- a self-licensing effect. Drawing from goal setting and regulatory closure literature, we propose that regulatory focus influences whether people will show behavioural consistency or self-licensing. Four experimental studies ( N = 1184) including one highly powered preregistered conceptual replication supported the hypothesis that regulatory focus moderates the impact of past proenvironmental behaviour (sanctioned by bogus feedback) on behavioural intentions. In a prevention focus, past positive behaviour weakened proenvironmental intentions in comparison with past negative behaviour and control condition (i.e., self-licensing) - an effect that did not appear in a promotion focus. Results contribute to the growing literature on factors moderating self-licensing dynamics. We discuss theoretical implications for regulatory fit and regulatory closure research, and specifically for the study of individuals' reaction to negative information in promotion focus. We also offer suggestions for designing effective individualised green consumption feedback and recommend that regulatory focus is used as a frame to effectively communicate personal 'green scores' and avoid potential rebound effects of positive feedback.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Society & Choice > Sozialpsychologie (Greifeneder)
UniBasel Contributors:Lalot, Fanny
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:04 Jul 2023 03:10
Deposited On:15 Jun 2022 11:31

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