'Feel the Fit': Private Self-Focus Moderates the Persuasive Effects of Regulatory Fit



The 'value from fit' principle (Higgins, 2000) states that individuals experience regulatory fit when they use goal pursuit strategies that match their (current) focus orientation. This, in turn, increases the perceived value of their behavior. In accordance with this notion, research has shown that regulatory fit improves task performance (Shah, Higgins, & Friedman, 1998) and positively affects persuasion (Lee & Aaker, 2004). The present research extends this work by showing that regulatory fit effects are stronger for individuals high in private self-focus. This is based on work by Hull et al. (2002) which showed that individuals high in private self-focus are more susceptible to external information because they encode it in terms of its self-relevance. We argue that for individuals high in private self-focus information that fits with knowledge stored in memory is deemed self-relevant and hence positively affects attitudes and behavior. A series of studies, in which participants were presented with charity information that either matched or mismatched their regulatory (promotion or prevention) focus, showed that private self-focus moderates the relation between regulatory fit and the intention to help the charity and actual charity donations. We provide further evidence that processing fluency is the underlying mechanism accounting for the role of private self-focus.
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Dr. B. Donkers