Motivation by positive or negative role models: regulatory focus determines who will best inspire us

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Oct;83(4):854-64.


In 3 studies, the authors demonstrated that individuals are motivated by role models who encourage strategies that fit their regulatory concerns: Promotion-focused individuals, who favor a strategy of pursuing desirable outcomes, are most inspired by positive role models, who highlight strategies for achieving success; prevention-focused individuals, who favor a strategy of avoiding undesirable outcomes, are most motivated by negative role models, who highlight strategies for avoiding failure. In Studies 1 and 2, the authors primed promotion and prevention goals and then examined the impact of role models on motivation. Participants' academic motivation was increased by goal-congruent role models but decreased by goal-incongruent role models. In Study 3, participants were more likely to generate real-life role models that matched their chronic goals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Ontario
  • Safety
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Social Perception*