The moderating role of regulatory focus on the social model ing of food intake.

Arnd Florack, Johanna Palcu, Malte Friese

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Regulatory focus theory proposes two distinct modi of self-regulation, a promotion focus and a prevention focus. According to this theory, individuals in a prevention focus apply behavioral strategies to successfully avoid unpleasant outcomes and maintain a safe and secure state. By contrast, individuals in a promotion focus apply behavioral strategies to realize pleasant outcomes and to advance the current state. Applied to the context of eating behavior, regulatory focus theory suggests that individuals in a prevention focus should be especially sensitive to avoid socially inappropriate eating behavior. A way to ensure socially appropriate eating behavior is to follow social models. In the present research, we therefore tested the assumption that a prevention focus leads to stronger modeling effects in eating behavior than a promotion focus. In two studies, we manipulated individual's self-regulation states by putting individuals in a state of reflection about their hopes and aspirations (promotion focus) vs. a state of reflection about their duties and responsibilities (prevention focus). Participants then observed the consumption behavior of a second participant who either consumed or did not consume offered food (Study 1) or received incidental information about the amount of food an ostensible previous participant had consumed (Study 2). Across both studies, participants in a prevention focus matched their food consumption more closely to that of a present (Study 1) and not-present social model (Study 2), compared to participants in a promotion focus. The results advance our understanding of modeling effects in food intake by showing the importance of regulatory orientations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114 - 122
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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