Regulatory Focus as an Explanatory Variable for Cross-Cultural Differences in Achievement-Related Behavior

Jenny Kurman, Gregory Arief Liem, Tal Ivancovsky, Hiroaki Morio, Joo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The main claim of the present study is that regulatory focus (i.e., promotion vs. prevention orientations) is an important explanatory variable of cross-cultural differences in actual and self-reported achievement-related behaviors and preferences, which include a component of autonomy. It adds explained variance in behavior above and beyond that of individualism/collectivism (I/C), and mediates the relations between I/C and behavior. Three studies are reported. The first compared Israeli Jews and Arabs on minimal initiation (n = 255), the second compared Israeli Jews and Japanese on creativity (n = 92), and the third compared Swiss, Mexican, and Indonesian samples on preference for mastery goals in education (n = 488). All three studies demonstrated the ability of regulatory focus scales to distinguish between cultures and to serve as meaningful predictors of actual and self-reported achievement-related behaviors. The measured I/C scales were found to be less relevant to behavior prediction than was regulatory focus. In most studies, regulatory focus scales mediated the relations between some of the I/C scales and behavior. The diversity of the measured behaviors and cultures supports the ecological validity of the findings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)171-190
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2015


  • achievement
  • creativity
  • culture
  • individualism–collectivism
  • initiation
  • mastery goals
  • regulatory focus

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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