E. Tory Higgins

Managing Others Like You Were Managed: How Prevention Focus Motivates Copying Interpersonal Norms

Coauthor(s): Shu Zhang, Guoquan Chen.

Abstract:

In 5 studies, we investigated the relation between regulatory focus and the tendency to copy a role model’s managing behavior after one experiences this behavior as its recipient and later takes on the same managing role. Because enacting role-related behaviors fulfills interpersonal norms that fit prevention concerns, we predicted a stronger tendency to copy among individuals with a stronger prevention focus on duties and obligations (“oughts”) but not among those with a stronger promotion focus on aspirations and advancements (ideals). We also predicted that individuals with a stronger prevention focus would tend to copy a managing behavior regardless of their earlier hedonic experience with this behavior as its recipient. These predictions were first supported in 2 experimental studies, where a stronger prevention focus was measured as a chronic disposition (Study 1) and experimentally induced as a temporary state (Study 2). Further, we tested the mechanism underlying the relation between stronger prevention and stronger copying and found that concerns about the normativeness, but not the effectiveness, of a managing behavior motivated copying for individuals with a strong prevention focus (Studies 3 and 4). We generalized these experimental results to the field by surveying a sample of superior-subordinate dyads in real world organizations (Study 5). Across all studies, we found that individuals with a stronger prevention focus tend to copy more a role model’s managing behavior — independent of their hedonic satisfaction with the behavior as its recipient and their perception of its effectiveness.

Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Exact Citation:
Zhang, Shu, E. Tory Higgins, and Guoquan Chen. "Managing Others Like You Were Managed: How Prevention Focus Motivates Copying Interpersonal Norms." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100, no. 4 (2011): 647-663.
Volume: 100
Number: 4
Pages: 647-663
Date: 2011