10.1177/0146167205276429 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN Galinsky et al. / REGULATORY FOCUS AND NEGOTIATIONS
Regulatory Focus at the Bargaining Table:
Promoting Distributive and Integrative Success
Adam D. Galinsky
Geoffrey J. Leonardelli
University of Toronto
Gerardo A. Okhuysen
University of Utah
University of Cologne
The authors demonstrate that in dyadic negotiations, negotia-
than negotiators with prevention regulatory focus in two ways.
at the bargaining table. In the first two studies, promotion-
focused negotiators paid more attention to their target prices
ate more resources at the bargaining table that benefit both par-
ties. A third study demonstrated that in a multi-issue negotia-
tion, a promotion focus increased the likelihood that a dyad
achieved a jointly optimal or Pareto efficient outcome compared
regulatory focus in social interaction and introduces the notion
of interaction fit.
Keywords: regulatory focus; negotiations; social interaction; distribu-
tive outcomes; integrative outcomes
To become successful negotiators, individuals must
maximize self-interest, on one hand, and to cooperate
and maximize joint interests, on the other (Carnevale &
ing situations can make negotiators feel torn between a
drive to bargain hard and risk walking away from mutu-
ally beneficial agreements, or bargain soft and risk fail-
ingtoclaim asmuch oftheresource astheycould. Tobe
most effective, negotiators must both create as “large a
pie” as possible, to produce the most economically effi-
sible, to satisfy their self-interest. An important research
question, then, is how might individuals circumvent this
conflict to simultaneously compete and cooperate to
achieve favorable agreements.
This tension between competition and cooperation
connects to the larger and more fundamental challenge
of how individuals regulate their thoughts, emotions,
and behavior. Regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1998)
was created to explicate how individuals self-regulate
toward desired end states. Regulatory focus emphasizes
security, toward which individuals may self-regulate and
that the processes of self-regulation are fundamentally
altered depending on which type of need is of primary
ence of regulatory focus on thoughts, emotions, and
has examined the role of regulatory focus in interper-
sonal interaction more generally and in competitive,
mixed-motive, social interactions more specifically. In
Authors’ Note: We are indebted to Don Moore for his helpful and in-
sightful comments on a draft of this article. Correspondence may be
addressed to Adam D. Galinsky, Department of Management and Or-
ganizations, Leverone Hall, Kellogg School of Management, North-
western University, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208; e-mail:
PSPB, Vol. 31 No. 8, August 2005 1087-1098
© 2005 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
the current studies, we investigated the effect that regu-
latory focus has on negotiations, on the creation and
distribution of resources.
At the core of regulatory focus theory is the notion
pain. Sometimes people are motivated more by the
desire to secure pleasure and other times by the desire
to elude pain. Underneath these different ways to navi-
gate the physical and social landscape are two funda-
mental concerns, nurturance and security. Nurturance
needs activate and are best met through a promotion
focus in which people tend to be concerned with
accomplishments, hopes, and aspirations (Higgins,
1998). Promotion-focused individuals are directed
toward achieving positive outcomes, on attaining their
ideals, and this focus is characterized by a general state
of eagerness. By contrast, individuals with security con-
cerns tend to adopt a prevention focus, a state of self-
regulation concerned with safety, responsibilities, and
obligations (Higgins, 1998). These individuals are
characterized by a general state of vigilance. Thus, the
regulatory foci, promotion and prevention, are distinct
states and result in divergent strategic inclinations for
achieving thedesired end statesofnurturanceandsecu-
Regulatory focus can both be conceived as a chronic
state and as a momentary product of the situation. The
individual difference approach recognizes that some
individuals differ in the extent to which they chronically
focus on hopes and nurturance concerns or on obliga-
tions and safety concerns. Higgins (1998) suggests that
these chronic states emerge from different patterns of
parenting, with a promotion regulatory focus associated
with withholding or withdrawing love and a prevention
regulatory focus associated with punishment as forms of
parental discipline. Not only can regulatory focus be
considered a chronic state but certain situations make
one regulatory focus predominant over the other.
each can be dominant at any one time. Situationally
induced regulatory focus can, for example, be brought
on by asking people to think about their hopes and aspi-
rations (promotion focus) or duties and obligations
(prevention focus) or by task instructions that
emphasize either gains (promotion focus) or losses
A vast literature has accumulated showing the wide-
spread effects of regulatory focus. Promotion-focused
individuals are more open to change (Liberman, Idson,
Camacho, & Higgins, 1999), generate more hypotheses
(Liberman, Molden, Idson, & Higgins, 2001), but make
more errors of commission (Crowe & Higgins, 1997)
and experience cheerfulness after positive outcomes
anddejection afternegative outcomes (Shah& Higgins,
2001). Prevention-focused individuals, on the other
excluding erroneous hypotheses (Liberman et al.,
2001), they tend to make errors of omission (Crowe &
Higgins, 1997), and experience relief after positive out-
comes and agitation after negative outcomes (Shah &
Despite the voluminous literature, little research has
investigated how regulatory focus plays out in actual
social situations. Even the studies that have touched on
social interaction have generally not had participants
tory focus affected the attractiveness of different ways of
responding to conflict-laden situations but they did not
have participants actually engage in conflict resolution.
Similarly, Sassenberg, Kessler, and Mummendey (2003)
found that regulatory focus affected the amount and
type of ingroup favoritism, but their participants made
resource allocation decisions between unknown
actual interaction. We sought to take regulatory focus
theory into a truly interactive context, a face-to-face
negotiation, where individuals compete for scarce
resources but also need to cooperate to meet their own
needs and those of their negotiating partner. Specifi-
cally, we sought to answer the question: Which type of
regulatory foci, promotion or prevention, will benefit
both the negotiator and the negotiating dyad?
ACHIEVING SUCCESS AT THE BARGAINING TABLE
Before turning to the question of which regulatory
focus is better suited for achieving success, it is useful to
consider the factors that generally arm the negotiator
comes depend heavily on which goals and standards are
made salient before and during the negotiation. The
points a negotiator attends to within his or her bargain-
ing position have profound effects on the resources a
negotiator who concentrates on his or her ideal or most
preferred outcome (target price) will typically achieve a
more advantageous outcome than the negotiator that
(reservation price; Galinsky, Mussweiler, & Medvec,
ences the negotiation process is the level of a first or
opening offer (Benton, Kelley, & Liebling, 1972;
Galinsky & Mussweiler, 2001; Liebert, Smith, Hill, &
1088 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
Keiffer, 1968). Galinsky and Mussweiler (2001), for
example, found that the amount of the first offer affects
outcomes, with more extreme or aggressive first offers
leading to better outcomes for the person making that
first offer. In fact, initial offers tend to be better predic-
tors of final settlement prices than subsequent conces-
ent articles, negotiating contexts, and experimental
manipulations, the aggressiveness of the first offer often
explains more than 50% of the variance in final out-
comes (Galinsky et al., 2002; Galinsky & Mussweiler,
2001; Kray, Thompson, & Galinsky, 2001). Finally, it is
important to note that there is a relationship between
target prices and the aggressiveness of first offers:
Negotiators fixated on their target prices make more
extreme first offers (Galinsky et al., 2002).
Focusing on target prices, setting aggressive goals,
making the first offer, and making aggressive first offers
have all been shown to lead negotiators to secure better
agreements for themselves at the bargaining table. In
the current research, we examine if one of the regula-
tory foci, promotion or prevention, can lead to these
behaviors and, by extension, to these outcomes. By defi-
nition, the promotion regulatory focus is directed to
achieving ideals, contemplating one’s hopes and aspira-
tions, and approaching positive outcomes. Therefore,
we predict that the promotion regulatory focus will lead
to more advantageous outcomes and will do so by
increasing the attention of negotiators to target prices
and by leading to more extreme opening offers. Thus, a
promotion regulatory focus should provide the negotia-
tor with an advantage at the bargaining table. The first
two studies investigate whether a promotion focus will
give a negotiator a bargaining advantage. In these stud-
ies, we used a single-issue negotiation, which is typically
called a distributive negotiation because the two
negotiators are only competing over the distribution of
the resources from this one issue.
A promotion regulatory focus also may have advan-
tages for the negotiating dyad that go beyond the ones
provided for an individual negotiator. Such a situation
could occur in negotiations that involve multiple issues.
In many multiple-issue negotiations, both negotiators
will not prioritize the issues in the same order because,
although some issues may be more important to one
party, they may be less important to the other party. As a
result, both negotiators can improve their outcomes by
conceding on low priority issues in exchange for their
most preferred outcome on high priority issues, a tech-
nique called logrolling (Froman & Cohen, 1970). Thus,
multiple-issue negotiations are often called integrative
ing priorities to achieve the most efficient outcome that
“expands the pie.” To the extent that negotiators are
able to integrate their conflicting priorities, an agree-
ment is said to be more “efficient,” and an agreement is
considered to be maximally or Pareto efficient if there
are no possible agreements that would improve the util-
ity of one or both parties without hurting either party
(Thompson, 1990, 2001; Tripp & Sondak, 1992). Mere
compromise, or simply “splitting” all issues down the
middle, is an impediment to reaching Pareto-efficient
agreements; instead, negotiators should use the
logrolling technique. We contend that one way that
negotiators can resist the temptation to simply compro-
aspirations. Knowing what one wants should allow the
ones. Thus, a promotion focus, relative to a prevention
focus, may yield a greater likelihood of reaching a
Pareto-efficient outcome because individuals will probe
more aggressively for opportunities to achieve their
These predictions for regulatory focus in distributive
three studies. We follow the example set by Higgins and
colleagues in their work by first measuring regulatory
focus in Study 1 and then manipulating it in Studies 2
promotion regulatory focus will achieve a better distrib-
utive outcome for himself or herself than a prevention-
focused negotiator and whether a promotion focus
advantage leads to greater attention to target prices.
Study 2 also explores whether a promotion focus leads
negotiators tomake more extreme andaggressive open-
ing offers. Because placing both negotiators into the
same regulatory focus could cancel out the effects, we
measured (Study 1) or manipulated (Study 2) the regu-
latory focus of only one of the negotiators in each dyad.
Finally, Study 3 examines whether a promotion focus
leads to the achievement of Pareto-efficient outcomes.
The first study tested the hypothesis that greater pro-
motion focus leads to better outcomes in a distributive
negotiation. To test this prediction, participants
engaged in a job negotiation concerning a signing
tory focus of participants who played the role of the
recruiter,1whose goal was to pay the lowest possible
bonus to the candidate. We used a continuous measure
of regulatory focus, with higher numbers indicating
more promotion focus. We predicted that the more the
recruiter reported approaching negotiations with a pro-
motion focus, the lower the final bonus would be in this
Galinsky et al. / REGULATORY FOCUS AND NEGOTIATIONS1089
outcomes in part because promotion focus should lead
to greater attention to an individual’s ideal outcome, or
on promotion, the greater attention they will give to
possible explanation for why promotion focus might
lead to a better distributive outcome than prevention
focus. Individuals with a prevention focus seem more
concerned with meeting other people’s expectations
(Lee, Aaker, & Gardner, 2000) and are concerned with
avoiding negative outcomes. Asaresult, individuals with
a prevention focus may be more concerned with secur-
to meeting their lowest acceptable (or reservation)
price. Thus,the more the negotiators reported focusing
on promotion, the less attention we predicted that they
would give to their reservation prices.
Participants and procedure. In all, 52 master’s of busi-
tiations course, participated in the 2nd week of the
course. The sex distribution of the MBA classes is
approximately 28% female, with a mean age of 28 years
old. Because this was the 2nd week of class, participants
were not expert in negotiations yet but they were knowl-
so they could not hear or observe other dyads
The participants were randomly assigned to 26 nego-
tiating dyads, where they represented the recruiter or
candidate in the simulated negotiation, “The Bonus”
(see Diekmann, Tenbrunsel, & Galinsky, 2003; Galinsky
et al., 2002; Galinsky & Mussweiler, 2001). Recruiters
were told that they were the director of personnel, that
the employment negotiation had been finalized except
for the signing bonus. In addition, they were informed
that the largest bonus the company was willing to offer
was $20,000 (they were told this was the highest bonus
the firm had ever paid) but the firm would prefer to pay
were told that they were a 2nd-year MBA from a presti-
a well-respected Boston consulting firm. Although the
Boston firm had only offered $5,000, the candidate had
heard thatbonuses ofupto$30,000 hadbeen offered to
others in the consulting field. To accept the offer of
employment in the current negotiation, the candidate
needed to get at least $10,000 as a signing bonus. In
other words, the recruiter had a reservation price of
$20,000 and a target price of $5,000, whereas the candi-
of $30,000. Thus, the bargaining zone ranged from
$10,000 to $20,000 (i.e., the distance between the two
negotiators’ reservation prices), yielding a range of
$10,000.3If the negotiators could not agree on a bonus
amount, they could choose to declare impasse and not
reach a deal.
Before negotiating, recruiters were asked, “Do you
focus more on avoiding negative outcomes in negotia-
tions or do you focus more on approaching positive out-
scale (1 = focus more on avoiding negative outcomes, 8 = focus
sented our index of regulatory focus; lower numbers
indicated greater prevention focus and higher numbers
indicated greater promotion focus.4
After the negotiation, recruiters were given a
what extent did you focus on the least price you would
accept before walking away from this negotiation?” and
“Towhatextentdidyoufocusontheideal price thatyou
to each question using a 7-point scale (1 = not at all, 7 =
tion to reservation and target price, respectively. After
thenegotiation,participantswere fullydebriefed aspart
of the class discussion.
Results and Discussion
Table 1 summarizes recruiters’ regulatory focus ten-
dencies, attention to their target prices, attention to the
reservation prices, and the outcome. All negotiating
dyads reached an agreement and, therefore, there were
lower costs and, thus, better outcomes. Consistent with
predictions, as recruiters focused more on promotion,
In addition, as recruiters focused more on promotion,
they also reported paying more attention to their target
prices. Consistent with past research that demonstrates
that as individuals pay more attention to their aspira-
recruiters who paid more attentionto their target prices
achieved better outcomes. Finally, regulatory focus was
uncorrelated with the extent to which participants paid
was not correlated with final outcomes.
The evidence collected in Study 1 supported our pre-
the better the outcome that individual received for him-
1090 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
self or herself. In addition, the more individuals
reported focusing on promotion, the more they were
likely to pay attention to their target prices. Of interest,
this study did not support the prediction that greater
ervation price (which would have resulted in a signifi-
cant negative correlation between the two variables).
The first study provided correlational evidence that a
promotion regulatory focus leads to better distributive
outcomes than does a prevention regulatory focus. The
second study was designed to replicate this effect and to
test it experimentally to establish causal support for the
hypothesis. To test this prediction, participants engaged
in a negotiation over the sale of a pharmaceutical plant.
We experimentally manipulated the buyer’s regulatory
focus (promotion vs. prevention). Thus, buyers who
were primed with a promotion regulatory focus were
to minimize their cost by agreeing to a lower sales price
for the plant (a better outcome for them) than buyers
who were primed with a prevention regulatory focus.
promotion focus produces more extreme or aggressive
opening offers and whether the aggressiveness of open-
ing offers might account for why a promotion focus
target price has been shown to lead to more extreme
opening offers (Galinsky et al., 2002). Individuals with a
promotion focus may be more likely to make aggressive
opening offers as a way to achieve their aspirations; that
is, extreme offers may represent a strategy particularly
suited for achieving promotion goals. Previous research
ing offers in deal-making can anchor the final outcome
in a negotiation so that more extreme opening offers
lead to better distributive outcomes for the person mak-
ingthatoffer.Thus,apromotion focusmaylead individ-
uals to focus on their target prices, resulting in more
extreme opening offers, which in turn should lead to
better distributive negotiation outcomes.
Participants and procedure.Inall,54 MBAstudentswho
were enrolled in a course on negotiations participated
during the 1st week of the course. They were randomly
ulated negotiation called “Synertech-Dosagen” (for
details, see Galinsky & Mussweiler, 2001), where a buyer
and seller negotiated the purchase of a pharmaceutical
plant. Both negotiators were given the same general
information regarding the plant. The plant was located
experienced, but highly mobile, workforce. The seller
purchased the plant 3 years before for $15 million,
which was below market value because the previous
seller was in bankruptcy, and the plant was appraised 2
years ago for $19 million. The local real estate market
had declined 5% since then but the plant was a unique
property and thus general real estate trends might not
apply. Finally, a plant similar to this one recently sold for
$26 million. If the negotiators could not agree on a sale
price, they could choose to declare an impasse.
Buyers also were told that as chief financial officer,
they needed to purchase a new plant for their company
to manufacture a highly specialized compound. The
rently in operation, had FDA approval, and had a well-
disadvantage (i.e., it was far from the company’s head-
agreement” (i.e., BATNA) was to build a new plant at a
cost of $25 million. This new plant would take a year to
be fully operational (including FDA approval) and
would be close to headquarters. By contrast,sellers were
told that they were selling the plant because the com-
pany they represented was phasing out the product line
the plant and sell the equipment separately; the pro-
jected profit if the plantwere stripped would be $17 mil-
lion. Thus, the bargaining zone for this negotiation
ranged from $17 million to $25 million, a range of $9
Galinsky et al. / REGULATORY FOCUS AND NEGOTIATIONS1091
TABLE 1:Descriptive Statistics and Bivariate Correlations: Study 1
1. Regulatory focus
2. Attention to target price
3. Attention to reservation price
4. Outcome (bonus)
.04 $14,160 $10,000-$19,000
for the recruiter. For outcome, lower scores indicate better outcomes for the recruiter.
*p < .10. **p < .05.
Regulatory focus manipulation. Prior to reading their
role materials, all participants were asked to write down
their thoughts about negotiations, but only buyers were
induced to adopt a promotion or prevention focus. Buy-
ersinthePromotion Condition were told,“Please takea
couple of minutes to briefly describe the negotiation
and outcomes.” Buyers in the Prevention Condition
were told, “Please take a couple of minutes to briefly
describe the negotiation behaviors and outcomes you
seek to avoid during this class. Think about how you
could prevent these behaviors and outcomes.” By con-
trast, all of the sellers were simply asked, “Please take a
couple of minutes to briefly describe the types of ques-
tions you hope to answer in this negotiation class.”
After participants completed the negotiation, buyers
negotiation’s outcome and finally answered the same
two questions from Study 1 about the extent to which
After the negotiation, participants were fully debriefed
as part of the class discussion.
Results and Discussion
All dyads reached an agreement. Consistent with pre-
dictions, buyers with a promotion focus were more suc-
cessful in reducing their costs by agreeing to lower sales
prices (M = 21.24, SD = 2.52) than those with a preven-
tion focus (M = 24.07, SD = 2.10). The plant’s sale price
was submitted to an analysis of variance (ANOVA) with
regulatory focus as the between-participant predictor.
Analysis revealed that regulatory focus significantly
Also, promotion-focused buyers (M = 5.14, SD = 1.10)
paid more attention to their target prices than did
prevention-focused buyers (M = 4.23, SD = 1.17), F(1,
25) = 4.38, p = .05. As in Study 1, there was no effect of
Overall, then, an experimental design replicated the
effects found in Study 1.
Novel to Study2,however,is anexamination of open-
ing offers. Consistent with the goal of reducing the cost
ers with a prevention focus (M = 20.77, SD = 2.41), F(1,
25) = 16.68, p < .001. This pattern suggests that opening
offers may mediate the extent to which the regulatory
focus manipulation affected the plant’s final sale price.
According to the criteria required to establish a medi-
focus manipulation first must predict the plant’s sale
price and opening offers. Both of these criteria have
been met. Furthermore, opening offers must be posi-
tively correlated with the plant’s sale price; consistent
with this criterion, analysis revealed that opening offers
.72, p < .001, with lower initial offers leading to lower
regression analysis with regulatory focus and opening
sis, regulatory focus was dummy coded; those in the pre-
tion condition were assigned a 1. Analysis revealed that
opening offers remained a significant predictor of sale
price (β = .64, p = .002). However, regulatory focus no
longer significantly predicted sale price (β = –.13, p =
.49) and, in addition, the change in the association
between regulatory focus and sale price was significant
(z = –2.64, p = .008). A summary of the mediation analy-
ses is presented in Figure 1. Thus, it appears that open-
ing offers mediated the association between regulatory
focus and sale price.
Although we found no differences in attention to res-
ervation prices, it is interesting to note that 3 of the 13
(23%) prevention-focused negotiators, but only 1 of 14
(7%) promotion-focused negotiators, reached agree-
a new plant. According to prescriptive negotiation the-
ory, individuals should walk away from a negotiation
and declare an impasse when they cannot reach an
agreement better than their best alternative available,
yet prevention-focused negotiators seemed less likely to
do so. Recent research suggests that when negotiators
fear the possibility of impasse, they inappropriately
reduce their reservation prices and agree to outcomes
that are worse than their alternatives (Diekmann et al.,
2003).Perhapsprevention-focused negotiators, who are
geared toward security needs and avoiding negative out-
comes, fear and try to protect against the possibility of
inferior agreements. Or, perhaps prevention-focused
1092 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
Figure 1Openingoffers as a mediator of regulatory focuson plant’s
sale price: Study 2.
NOTE: Numbers to the right of the slash are associations resulting
from the simultaneous regression analysis. All others are bivariate cor-
relations. All participants were buyers and thus wanted lower prices.
1 = promotion).
**p < .05.
negotiators commit to these inferior agreements
because they tend to pursue behaviors that minimize
interpersonal rejection (Ayduk, May, Downey, & Hig-
gins, 2003). Although not our current goal, an excellent
direction for future research will be to determine when
regulatory focus affects the decision to walk away from
the bargaining table.
Consistent with Study 1, Study 2 experimentally dem-
onstrated that promotion-focused negotiators achieved
more beneficial outcomes and had a greater focus on
target prices than did prevention-focused negotiators.
Study 2 also revealed that individuals with a promotion
focusmade more extreme opening offersandthatthese
opening offers mediated the extent to which regulatory
focus affected the final outcome of the negotiation.
Studies 1 and 2 have demonstrated that promotion-
focused negotiators achieve superior distributive out-
comes for themselves than do prevention-focused nego-
role of regulatory focus in a multi-issue negotiation, one
that contained integrative possibilities. We specifically
explored whether a promotion focus would produce
more Pareto-efficient outcomes.
As Studies 1 and 2 have demonstrated, individuals
with a promotion focus attended more to their target
prices. Target price focus may allow individuals to be
optimizers or maximizers rather than satisficers
(Schwartz et al., 2002; Simon, 1955); that is, target price
focus may lead negotiators to avoid satisficingon a mini-
mally acceptable agreement. Struggling to meet one’s
ideal outcome should force negotiators to avoid merely
compromising and splitting the issues down the middle;
so discover mutually beneficial trade-offs that can be
and achieve Pareto efficiency because it will lead negoti-
1986; Pruitt, 1983).
In Study 3, we also examined an alternative to the
bargaining table, exploring whether there is a bargain-
ing situation in which a prevention regulatory focus
might be particularly helpful for negotiators. Recent
depends on the relative fit between one’s regulatory
focus and task demands (Higgins, 200l; Higgins, Idson,
Freitas, Spiegel, & Molden, 2003). For example, a pre-
vention regulatory focus is associated with greater per-
a “fit” between the regulatory focus and the task strate-
1998). Thus, the Pareto efficiency of each regulatory
focus may depend in part on the type of resources indi-
negotiating over burdens that they wish to avoid (e.g.,
debt, undesirable tasks, and hazardous waste; Mannix,
Neale, & Northcraft, 1995; Okhuysen, Galinsky, &
to, whereas burdens are seen as negative, as punish-
ments to be avoided. Individuals perceive that negotiat-
ingover thedistribution ofburdens ismore contentious
reach an agreement (Mannix et al., 1995). Even when
agreements arereached,outcomes concerning burdens
are less efficient than agreements over benefits
(Okhuysen et al., 2003; Sondak et al., 1995).
when individuals are negotiating the amount of a bur-
den they are willing to accept, a prevention regulatory
focus may lead to more Pareto optimal outcomes than
would a promotion regulatory focus. When individuals
take a prevention focus, they want to avoid negative out-
comes. When negotiating over burdens, there would be
a fit between task strategy (avoiding burdens) and a pre-
vention regulatory focus, and this fit may make it easier
for negotiators to uncover integrative outcomes neces-
sary for achieving Pareto optimality. In contrast, when
resources areframedasbenefits,apromotion focusmay
lead to more efficient outcomes thana prevention focus
because a promotion focus is congruent with the goal of
achieving positive benefits. When regulatory focus fits
should be more likely.
Study 3 tested whether a promotion regulatory focus
would uniformly increase the number of Pareto optimal
agreements regardless of the valence of the resource to
be negotiated or whether theintegrative advantagesofa
tions over the distribution of benefits. The hypothesis
that promotion regulatory focus is a robust advantage at
the bargaining table argues for a main effect of regula-
tory focus that is independent of resource valence. No
matter whether resources are framed as benefits or bur-
dens, a promotion focus may lead to more Pareto opti-
mal outcomes than prevention focus because a promo-
tion focus induces negotiators to focus on and express
their aspirations, which should help to identify the inte-
grative potential of a multi-issue negotiation. The regu-
latory fit prediction calls for an interaction between
regulatory focus and valence of the resource to be
Galinsky et al. / REGULATORY FOCUS AND NEGOTIATIONS1093
Participants and procedure. In all, 326 MBA students
enrolled in an introductory organizational behavior
course participated during the 5th week of the class.
They were randomly assigned to 163 negotiating dyads.
Although in earlier class sessions the students had
engaged in a number of exercises concerning decision
We used the same negotiation exercise used by
Sondak et al. (1995), where each individual played the
partofgeneral manager ofacompany (i.e.,either Acme
or Pinnacle). Participants were asked to negotiate an
agreement with one another to provide a particular set
management companies that were located in the same
city and had similar businesses (environmental services
and reclamation) but which operated in different mar-
kets. In both conditions, participants were asked to
told that the negotiation involved five issues and they
a scoring sheet that provided information on how many
dollars each option of each issue was worth. They were
told that to reach an agreement they “must agree on one
optionforeach ofthe fiveissues presented.”Ifthenegotiators
could not reach an agreement, they could choose to
declare an impasse.
Resource valence manipulation. The experimental con-
ditions regarding resource valence were manipulated
through the exercise materials. The basic information
difference was whether the resources to be negotiated
were described as benefits or burdens.
In the Benefits Condition, participants acted as man-
reclamation services for the city. The scenario suggested
that an agreement for a joint bid by the two companies
for the business would be accepted by the city. In this
condition, the companies were expected to reap the
benefits of providing the construction services to the
city.Thus,theobjective in thiscondition wasto reach an
agreement on the distribution of the benefits derived
from the contract with the city. The scoring sheet pro-
terms (i.e., in terms of dollar benefits).
IntheBurdens Condition,participantswere toldthat
they had been asked to pay for construction and recla-
mation services by the city. The materials suggested that
the companies were responsible for providing reclama-
tion services to the city due to previous activity that had
caused pollution in the city and that an agreement for a
joint solution would be accepted by the city. In this con-
dition, the companies were expected to pay for the
burden of providing reclamation services to the city.
Thus, the objective in this condition was to reach an
agreement on the distribution of burdens derived from
the demands of the city. The scoring sheet provided to
participants listed the dollar amounts in negative terms
(i.e., in terms of dollar costs).
Regulatory focus manipulation. Participants were asked
to write down their thoughts about negotiation stan-
dards. The manipulation was held constant within each
negotiating dyad. Thus, both Acme and Pinnacle roles
within a dyad were primed with the same regulatory
ulatory focus because we were primarily concerned with
the Pareto efficiency of the negotiated agreements
rather than the distribution of those resources. Partici-
pants in the Prevention Condition were told, “Please
take a couple of minutes to think about the obligations
you have in a negotiation. What are the negotiation
tiation?Howyoucould preventthesebehaviors andout-
comes?” Participants in the Promotion Condition were
told, “Please take a couple of minutes to think about the
ing a negotiation? How you could promote these behav-
iors and outcomes?”
Negotiation issues. In both the benefits and burdens
was distributive, meaning that the parties’ preferences
were in complete opposition to each other. One issue
was congruent or compatible, meaning that the parties’
preferences were identical. The remaining three issues
strength of preferences for the three issues. If both par-
ties conceded on the issues they cared less about, then
lars they each earned (in the benefits condition) or in
terms of the number of dollars the agreement cost them
Pareto optimal agreement (Neale & Bazerman, 1991;
Thompson, 1991; Tripp & Sondak, 1992).
Pareto efficiency. We calculated an efficiency score for
each agreement according to the procedure proposed
by Tripp and Sondak (1992) and used by Sondak et al.
(1995). This score compares the agreement achieved by
theparties to thetotalset of possible agreements. Inthis
scheme, a Pareto optimal agreement achieves a score of
1,000, with scores varying from 0 to 1000. The efficiency
scores effectively capture the outcomes of congruent
and integrative issues; they represent the degree to
whichpartiesselected themutuallypreferred optionfor
1094 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
the congruent issue and discovered mutually beneficial
trade-offs for the integrative issues. In all, 72% of the
sample achieved a Pareto optimal outcome, that is,
where neither participant could improve their score
without reducing the score for their opponent (where
efficiency scores equaled 1,000). Agreements that were
Pareto optimal were given a score of 1 and agreements
that were not Pareto optimal were given a score of 0.
Results and Discussion
Using standard procedures (Kleinbaum, 1994),
Pareto optimal scores were submitted to a binary hierar-
chical logistic regression analysis. Thus, the model con-
tained a test of the first-order effect of Pareto optimal
outcomes (i.e., similar to an intercept test in ANOVA);
tests of the second-order associations (i.e., similar to a
main effect test) between regulatory focus and Pareto
mal outcomes; and a third-order association between
regulatory focus, resource valence, and Pareto optimal
outcomes (i.e., similar to a two-way interaction between
Pareto optimal outcome and the first-order effect
revealed (B = .93, SE = .17, p < .001) that this was signifi-
cantlydifferent from 50%.Inaddition, negotiators were
a prevention focus (65%; n = 79); this second-order
p = .03). Furthermore, negotiators were more likely to
reach Pareto optimal outcomes when they negotiated
they negotiated over the distribution of burdens (64%;
n = 108). This second-order effect of resource valence
also was significant (B = 1.42, SE = .46, p = .002). Finally,
the third-order effect between regulatory focus and
p = .25).
The findings from Study 3 provide further evidence
for the advantage of a promotion regulatory focus in
negotiations. As expected, the results show that the
advantages of promotion focus extend to the realm of
multi-issue integrative negotiations. Negotiators in a
promotion regulatory focus were more likely to reach a
regulatory focus. Furthermore, this was the case regard-
less of whether benefits or burdens were negotiated.
Focusing on what one hopes to achieve in a negotiation
thus appears to yield to the accumulation of more bene-
fits as well as the successful avoidance of burdens.
At first sight, this finding may appear surprising in
light of recent work on regulatory focus suggesting that
task performance depends on the relative fit between
one’s regulatory focus and task demands (Higgins, 200l;
Higgins et al., 2003). In contrast to this reasoning, how-
tiators battle over the distribution of burdens. Thus, the
increased tendency to focus on and communicate one’s
aspirations that is associated with a promotion focus
appears to foster the process of identifying integrative
potential and accomplishing Pareto optimality more
than a fit between negotiator’s regulatory focus and the
valence of the negotiated outcome.
We have examined how the distribution and effi-
ciency of negotiated outcomes depends on the type of
regulatory focus in which negotiators are placed. Across
three studies, a promotion regulatory focus led to supe-
rior negotiation outcomes relative to a prevention regu-
latory focus. Using a distributive negotiation in which
negotiator’s regulatory focus was assessed rather than
negotiation, a promotion regulatory focus is associated
with a distributive advantage: The more recruiters in a
simulated hiring negotiation focused on achieving posi-
own costs by agreeing to pay a lower bonus to the candi-
date. Study 2 extended these basic findings by using an
experimental design in which regulatory focus was
manipulated rather than measured. Consistent with the
ation than were those in a prevention regulatory focus.
strating that a promotion regulatory focus is not only
beneficial in single-issue distributive negotiations but it
seems similarly advantageoustobe inapromotion regu-
latory focus in the context of multi-issue, integrative
were primed with a promotion regulatory focus, they
were more likely to achieve a Pareto-efficient outcome.
motion. Furthermore, this promotion advantage was
independent of the valence of the negotiated outcome.
Regardless of whether benefits or burdens were being
negotiated, dyads were more likely to obtain a Pareto
optimal outcome than when they were in a promotion
rather than prevention regulatory focus. A promotion
regulatory focus allows a negotiator to not only create
value and expand the pie but also to claim value at the
The present findings not only demonstrate the nego-
tiation benefits of promotion regulatory focus but also
hint at the mechanisms that may be responsible for this
Galinsky et al. / REGULATORY FOCUS AND NEGOTIATIONS1095
prices than did prevention-focused negotiators. Attend-
ing to target prices not only leads negotiators to strive
and achieve this lofty aspiration, and thereby accrue
more advantageous distributive outcomes, but it also
prevents them from simply satisficing on minimally
acceptable outcomes and compromises; in trying to
negotiators to discover mutually beneficial trade-offs
and achieve Pareto optimality.
In addition, Study 2 revealed that negotiators’ open-
utive outcomes. Negotiators who were induced to focus
on promotion obtained better outcomes by making
more advantageous initial offers. Doing so introduces a
powerful anchor to the subsequent negotiation process
to which the final agreement is tied (Galinsky &
Mussweiler, 2001). This suggests that the effect of pro-
motion focus in negotiations is partially produced via
theeffectof anchors (Tversky& Kahneman,1974).One
their robustness (for an overview, see Mussweiler &
Strack, 1999). In fact, anchoring effects are so robust
that neither expertise (Englich & Mussweiler, 2001;
ton, Etling, & Brekke, 1996) nor explicit warnings (Wil-
ment and decision making against their influence. In
light of this well-established robustness of judgmental
anchoring, the negotiating effects of promotion focus
may be equally persistent. Once a negotiator with a pro-
motion focus has started with an extreme and advanta-
geous initial offer, it may be very difficult for the other
side to undo the effects of this powerful anchor.
These findingsdemonstrate thatapromotion regula-
ation situations. Focusing on promoting one’s success
rather than preventing one’s failures in a negotiation
the bargaining table. It should be noted that all of the
effects of one of the regulatory focus are relative to the
promotion regulatory focus is responsible for the
observed effects, but the effects can be equally framed
is, a prevention regulatory focus leads to disadvantages
that negotiators are better off adopting a promotion
focus than a prevention focus.
One possibility that we have not explored here is
whether both a promotion regulatory focus and a pre-
vention regulatory focus can be available to individuals
simultaneously. Given that previous research has found
positive effects for both promotion and prevention foci,
to capitalize on them simultaneously. This may not be
possible given the somewhat contradictory require-
ments of each focus. Research by Higgins (1989, see
tion of one motivational system may inhibit the other
(see also Brendl, Higgins, & Lemm, 1995).
Regulatory Focus, Social Interaction, and the
Question of Interaction Fit
One of the most important contributions of the cur-
have important consequences for social interaction.
Although previous research has touched on how regula-
tory focus may affect stereotyping (Foerster, Higgins, &
et al., 2003), or intergroup behavior (Sassenberg et al.,
2002), no previous research has demonstrated the role
of regulatory focus in determining the course of actual
social interaction. There are a number of avenues that
future research could take in exploring how regulatory
ity of rejection (Ayduk et al., 2003), a prevention regula-
tory focus could lead to greater perspective-taking, a
sense of connectedness, and consideration of the other
person’s goals. Support for this possibility comes from
research that shows that individuals with an interdepen-
dent self-construal focus more on prevention-focused
information (Lee et al., 2000). Although at first glance
viduals should be better able to achieve more Pareto
optimal outcomes (in contrast to the findings in Study
3), the combination of this research and Study 3 suggest
that Pareto efficiency depends on individuals also being
concerned with achieving their own optimal outcomes
Another interesting question is when and how does
regulatory focus smooth the cogs of social interaction
and increase social coordination. As mentioned earlier,
evidence exists that task performance depends on the
relative fit between one’s regulatory focus and task
demands (Higgins, 200l; Higgins et al., 2003). This kind
means used to achieve those goals. Considering the role
fit concerns whether two interacting individuals need to
nation and positive interpersonal consequences. This
question relates to research concerning whether behav-
ior mimicry or complementarity is the surest route to
smooth interactions. Research on mimicry has shown
1096 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
actions and increases liking between interaction part-
2003). In contrast, in hierarchical relationships (i.e.,
complementarity behaviors (e.g., having a constricted
posture) can lead to more comfortable interactions
(Tiedens & Fragale, 2003).
The results of Experiment 3 suggest that when both
more likely to achieve a Pareto optimal agreement than
when both negotiators are in a prevention regulatory
focus. Whether having the same or different regulatory
foci lead to smoother social interactions may depend on
the type and hierarchy of the relationship. It could be
motion focused and the low power negotiator is preven-
tion focused. Indeed, promotion focus, as part of the
possession of power (Anderson & Berdahl, 2002;
Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Magee, 2003; Keltner,
Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003). As a corollary, when
power differences exist between negotiators, the most
foci are complementary rather than mimicked; that is,
the low power negotiator is in a prevention regulatory
focus and the high power negotiator is in a promotion
regulatory focus. Another related avenue for future
research on regulatory focus in social situations is the
exploration of how the different regulatory foci affect
relationship goals, expectations, and behaviors. For
example, prevention-focused individuals may be predis-
posed to feel jealousy in the context of close relation-
ships, be ever vigilant for signs of romantic dissolution,
and may, through self-fulfilling prophecies and expec-
social interaction, a number of interesting avenues for
future research emerge. By examining the conse-
quences of regulatory focus for interpersonal contexts,
the current research provides a new direction, a new
horizon for regulatory focus, and offers the promise of
new insights into the dynamics of regulatory focus and
the nature of negotiations and social interaction.
1. We did not asses the focus of candidates in Study 1 because we
were concerned that having them answer the question before they
cult to determine any effects of regulatory focus.
2. During every class session, students engaged in a negotiation
ipants other than that they would be engaging in a negotiation
realistic expectations for the resource to be negotiated. Thus, the
bonus in Study 1 is in thousands of dollars and the pharmaceutical
plant in Study 2 is in millions of dollars.
the constraints of the research context did not afford us the opportu-
2, we are confident that we are tapping into real differences in
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Received February 20, 2004
Revision accepted November 24, 2004
1098PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN