The purpose of this chapter is to discuss how regulatory focus theory (Higgins 1997, 1998, 2002)—a theory of motivation and self-regulation that has been rapidly gaining prominence in consumer research (e.g., Aaker and Lee 2001; Briley and Wyer 2002; Pham and Avnet 2004; Zhou and Pham 2004)—can be drawn upon to explain a variety of consumer decision-making phenomena. We briefly review the major tenets of the theory, which proposes a fundamental distinction between two modes of self-regulation called promotion and prevention. Drawing on existing empirical evidence and new conceptual analyses, we then develop a series of theoretical propositions about the effects of promotion and prevention on consumer decision-making. These propositions are organized along the traditional stages of the decision-making process postulated by standard consumer behavior theory (i.e., problem recognition, information search, consideration set formation, etc.) Some of these propositions have already received empirical support, but most await formal empirical testing in consumer research. This propositional inventory can thus be viewed as a research agenda for studying the role of regulatory focus in consumer decision-making. We hope that this agenda will help revive consumer and marketing scholars' interest in the motivational analysis of consumer decision-making.
Pham, Michel Tuan, and E. Tory Higgins. "Promotion and Prevention in Consumer Decision-Making: The State of the Art and Theoretical Propositions." In Inside Consumption: Consumer Motives, Goals, and Desires, 8-43. Ed. S. Ratneshwar and David Glen Mick. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge , 2005.
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