Volume 27, Issue 3 p. 302-317
Research Article

How goal progress influences regulatory focus in goal pursuit

Olya Bullard

Corresponding Author

Olya Bullard

Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9, Canada

⁎Corresponding author.Search for more papers by this author
Rajesh V. Manchanda

Rajesh V. Manchanda

I.H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, 181 Freedman Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 5V4, Canada

Search for more papers by this author
First published: 28 January 2017
Citations: 14
Accepted by Amna Kirmani, Editor; Associate Editor, Amy N. Dalton

Abstract

This research examines the influence of goal progress on the regulatory focus of goals. The results of five experiments demonstrate that in earlier stages of goal pursuit, individuals represent goals as promotion-focused, while in later stages of goal pursuit, individuals represent goals as prevention-focused. This effect is driven by the differential reliance on the initial versus the desired state as a reference point throughout goal pursuit. In earlier stages of goal pursuit, reliance on the initial state as a reference point produces a gain-framed assessment of goal progress and leads to a promotion-focused view of goals. In later stages of goal pursuit, reliance on the desired state as a reference point produces a loss-framed assessment of goal progress and leads to a prevention-focused view of goals. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.