Emotional responses to goal attainment: strength of regulatory focus as moderator

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997 Mar;72(3):515-25. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.72.3.515.


Goals with a promotion focus versus a prevention focus are distinguished. Chronic ideal goals (hopes and aspirations) have a promotion focus, whereas ought goals (duties and responsibilities) have a prevention focus. The hypothesis that emotional responses to goal attainment vary as a function of promotion versus prevention goal strength (conceptualized as goal accessibility) was tested in correlational studies relating chronic goal attainment (self-congruencies or self-discrepancies) to emotional frequency and intensity (Studies 1-3) and in an experimental study relating immediate goal attainment (i.e., success or failure) to emotional intensity (Study 4). All studies found that goal attainment yielded greater cheerfulness-dejection responses when promotion focus was stronger and greater quiescence-agitation responses when prevention focus was stronger.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept