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Regulatory Focus Theory: Implications for the Study of Emotions at Work Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
1427 1188 Words (6 Pages) Joel Brockner, E. Tory Higgins
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Work behaviors can have tremendous implications for both the employees and the employers. How individuals regulate their focus and what behavior implication it has been what I will be discussing in this paper. Individuals’ behavior has two distinct self-regulatory foci, firstly, the promotion focused, and secondly the prevention focused. The paper aims at introducing these two aspects of the human thinking and how they translate into emotions at the workplace, the consequences of these emotions and the antecedents that need to be further researched and examined in line with the above. The paper is a self-reflection based on the article.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution

  1. Introduction

  2. Regulatory Focus Theory 

  3. ​The Emotional Experience

  4. Consequences of Emotions

  5. Antecedents to Regulatory Focus

  6. Conclusion

Case Analysis for Regulatory Focus Theory: Implications for the Study of Emotions at Work

2. Regulatory Focus Theory

The regulatory focus theory highlights two main components that according to me are highly visible amongst employees at the workplace. Firstly, there are employees who are highly motivated and prioritize growth and development. By this, these individuals aim at working hard towards achieving these goals. These individuals can be categorized as promotion focused. On the other end of the spectrum are individuals who are prevention focused. These individuals are not ambitious towards growth and development; rather, in my opinion aim at sustainability i.e. they are responsive to security needs and try to live up to the expectations set by the work environment.

The theory has certain underlying characteristics associated that aim to explain the rationale behind these emotions that translate into a certain behavior. The first element of the theory suggests that individuals aim at addressing certain pre-defined needs and wants that need to be fulfilled pushes them to either one of the two components. Secondly, the goals and standards set by individuals for themselves also decide whether they are a promotion or prevention-focused. Lastly, the psychological situations in which individuals exist in turn group them into the promotion or prevention-focused individuals (Russell & Cohn, 2012).

3. The Emotional Experience

Individuals lie at a certain end of the emotional spectrum whereby some are highly emotional while others are indifferent to outcomes of certain situations or events. The reaction in times of success or failure depends on their degree of promotion or prevention. I have come across individuals who are promotion focused working tediously towards aligning themselves with their ideal self. On the other hand, there are individuals who work enough to avoid any circumstances that may tarnish their reputation and work towards aligning themselves with the expectations set by organizations. Therefore, the levels of emotions that arise post an event vary from individual to individual (Brockner & Higgins, 2001).

To further explain the phenomenon discussed above take two individuals, one a promotion focused and one a prevention focused. Given the situation where the employee is praised for outstanding performance, the promotion-focused individual would be highly delighted whereas the prevention-focused would display a rather dormant behavior. Conversely, given a situation where an employee has failed to perform as expected the promotion-focused individual would be rather disappointed and disheartened whereas the prevention-focused individual would display fear and agitation. The behaviors, therefore, vary by the type of regulatory focus (Pfattheicher, 2015).

4. Consequences of Emotions

The consequences of emotions usually translate into a certain form of behavior. In my opinion, promotion-focused individuals are in fact highly ambitious and strive towards excellence. Prevention-focused is those who would just do enough to be able to save their jobs and not want to put any further or additional effort into their jobs for that matter. In essence, as the article mentions, promotion-focused is based on aspirations whereas the prevention focused is based on merely fulfilling duties. Attitudes and behaviors that work towards aspirations are intrinsic that is individuals have a drive from within to do so. On the other hand, fulfilling duties has no intrinsic value for the individuals rather behaviors are adjusted based on the fact that this is something they have to do (Poels & Dewitte, 2008).

Moreover, as discussed in the previous section, the behaviors can also vary based on the emotional experience. A disappointed individual would act differently than an agitated individual. Another important concept to mention is that these behaviors are evident at times of organizational change and we see individuals react differently. Prevention-focused employees will meet the change with fear and nervousness whereas the promotion-focused would deal with it with disappointment and discouragement (Higgins, Shah, & Friedman, 1997).

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