Promotion and Prevention Fit Are Different but Lead to Equal Performance: Examining Fit Sensitivity and Task Performance

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Virginia Tech


Regulatory focus theory encompasses promotion focus, seeking success and prevention focus, avoiding failure. These mutually exclusive focuses, when matched with the appropriate goal pursuit strategy, promotion with eager and prevention with vigilant, create a state of regulatory fit. This state of regulatory fit leads to different outcomes which the current study has grouped into fit sensitivity and performance. Fit sensitivity is the sensitivity to fit effects with an absence of correctness while performance outcomes are based in correctness. The goal of the current study was to examine both fit sensitivity and performance in the same task to demonstrate a difference in fit sensitivity effects between types of fit while showing equal performance between promotion and prevention fit.

An applicant hiring simulation was implemented. 24 applicant profiles for the position of police officer were generated, six with high risk/ variable reward elements meant to align with individuals in a state of promotion fit, six with low-risk/consistent-reward elements meant to align with individuals in a state of prevention fit, and six applicant profiles with a high probability of succeeding and finally six applicant profiles meant to have a low probability of succeeding. Participants rated the applicant profiles on their suitability and recommended 12 applicants to be hired. Initial results did not support the hypotheses, however exploratory analysis did demonstrate fit sensitivity for prevention fit. Additional exploratory analyses are discussed and possible explanations for the lack of results are examined.



Regulatory focus, goal pursuit strategy, regulatory fit, fit sensitivity, decision accuracy