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Maximal and Minimal Goal Attainment Standards


Regulatory fit occurs when individuals’ goal orientation matches their means of goal pursuit, and nonfit is found in the absence of a match. These phenomena suggest that there is a single standard for goal attainment regardless of regulatory orientation. The present research examines the premise that the standard for goal attainment differs with goal orientation. A persuasive message was presented in which none, one, or all means of goal pursuit (locomotion vs. assessment) fit with an individual’s regulatory goal orientation (promotion vs. prevention focus). More favorable evaluations were observed for promotion focused individuals as the number of goal pursuit means increased, and for those with a prevention focus when at least one means matched their goal orientation. These findings suggest that a promotion focus activates a maximal standard, which is a relative standard, for inferring fit and evaluation, whereas a prevention focus evokes a minimal standard, which is absolute.


Working Paper


Brian Sternthal

Date Published



Sternthal, Brian. 2016. Maximal and Minimal Goal Attainment Standards.


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