Thinking deadline: The impact of regulatory focus on deadline descriptions and deadline behavior

Karl-Andrew Woltin*, Kai J. Jonas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In everyday life, people are constantly faced with deadlines. The current research investigated whether a self-regulatory orientation in terms of promotion and prevention focus impacts on what individuals center on when considering deadlines. Specifically, we assumed promotion focus to enhance thinking about deadline descriptions and prevention focus to enhance thinking about deadline-related behavior, both in terms of their self-regulatory concerns (i.e., advancement versus security). Studies 1a and 1b, across a multitude of deadlines, provide evidence for this: Chronic promotion focus was related to growth-oriented deadline descriptions whereas chronic prevention focus was related to safety-oriented deadline behavior. Additionally, Study 1c shows that effects stem from experiences with past deadlines rather than deliberations of future deadlines. Finally, Study 2, manipulating regulatory focus and having participants spontaneously generate texts in relation to one specific deadline, replicated the effect for descriptions versus behavior. In sum, our results show that individuals' self-regulation impacts on deadline conceptualizations. Copyright (C) 2012 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-326
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes

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