The basic principle which has been the motivation throughout the history of psychology is the hedonic principle. The principle states that people always try to avoid pain and approach pleasure. A lot of motivational psychological models have been developed based on this theory. The hedonic principle is thus one of the most important principles in psychology (Higgins, 1997). Alternate ways to operate this principle is thus important to identify. Two different ways of operating the hedonic principle is discussed in this research. The promotion focus and the prevention focus are the aspects that will be discussed in this research paper (Higgins, 1998).
It has been found out that regulation of pain and pleasure with the help of the promotion focus and the prevention focus, known as the regulatory focus impacts the feelings, actions and thoughts of people. It is important for every human being to adapt to the surrounding environment socially. Children are provided with security and encouragement and also by defending them. It is important for the children to maintain good relation with their supervisors in order to survive (Förster & Higgins, 2005). The caretakers on account of taking care of their children sometimes have to be pleasurable and sometimes have to be painful to the children. The children have to adopt the ways to avoid the pain and approach pleasure.
It has been observed from some studies that there are impacts of regulatory focus on the intrinsic motivation of people (Carver, Sutton & Scheier, 2000). According to some other studies, motivational approach is influenced by regulatory focus (Pintrich, 1999). When success feedback is received by individuals who are focussed towards promotion, there is increase in their motivational approach. On the other hand, when failure feedback is received by individuals who are focussed towards prevention, there is increase in their motivational avoidance.
Thus, depending on the above stated literature, the following research questions can be framed:
- Is there a correlation between behavioural activation system and promotional self-regulation focus?
- Can behavioural activation system scores explain variance and predict changes in promotional self-regulation focus?
Using appropriate statistical techniques, the research questions will be answered.
The study conducted is an experimental study. Two different questionnaires were made for the study. One with the Behavioural Approach System subscale and the other with the Regulatory focus questionnaire. The study is aimed to evaluate the relationship between the motivational orientation and the regulatory focus. To evaluate the relationship between these two factors, the above mentioned information are required. The experiment was completed by the participants in the computer lab of the university.
The research done here is quantitative research. Thus appropriate statistical techniques will be applied to conduct this research. The research is aimed at how the Behavioural System Approach explains the variability in the regulatory focus. Thus, the independent variable is Behavioural System Approach and the dependent variable is regulatory focus.
The number of participants taking part in this research were 135 and they were between 18 and 51 years old. The average age of the participants were 21 years with a standard deviation of 6.07, which is less. Thus, it can be said that most participants were aged near 21 years. The participants were undergraduate psychology students of the University of Roehampton. The participants were informed about the aims of the research and why this study was conducted.
Two different questionnaires have been filled up for the purposes of this research. These are the Behavioural Approach System (BAS) subscale from the BIS/BAS scale and the subscale of promotion which has been obtained from the Regulatory Focus Questionnaire (RFQ).
For the questionnaire on Behavioural Approach System (BAS), the scale used are 1 – 4, where 1 indicates very false, 2 indicates somewhat false, 3 indicates somewhat true and 4 indicates very true. For example, the first question for the BAS subscale is “A person’s family is the most important thing in life”. The participants filling up the questionnaire will be rating the statement according to the scale mentioned (Higgins, 1998).
For the regulatory focus questionnaire, there are three different types of scales. For one scale, 1 indicates never or seldom, 3 indicates sometimes and 5 indicates very often. In another type of scale, 1 indicates never true, 3 indicates sometimes true and 5 indicates very often true. For the third type of scale, 1 indicates certainly false and 5 indicates certainly true. For example, one question in the questionnaire is “How often have you accomplished things that got you “psyched” to work even harder?”. The responses to this questionnaire will be scaled according to the first scale (Carver, Sutton & Scheier, 2000).
The participants were assigned two different questionnaires, one on Behavioural System Approach and the other on regulatory focus. They were asked to fill in the questionnaires as per the scaling criterion mentioned at the beginning of each of the questionnaires. After filling in the questionnaires the responses were submitted to the researchers for further study.
The dataset contained information about 13 Behavioural System Approach qualities and 6 regulatory focus qualities. The regulatory focus qualities have been considered as the dependent variables. Thus, the total of all the 13 quality measures of Behavioural System Approach have been considered as the independent variable and 6 regulatory focus qualities have been considered as the dependent variable. This has been done for the simplicity of the research.
From the analysis, it has been seen that the skewness value for Behavioural Approach System and Regulatory Focus lies between -1 and 1. Thus, it satisfies the condition of symmetricity. It can also be seen that value of kurtosis for Behavioural Approach System and Regulatory Focus lies between -2 and 2. This indicates that the values mesokurtic and hence, normality assumptions are satisfied. Thus the variable scores of Behavioural Approach System and Regulatory Focus are normally distributed. Hence, the data is parametric and parametric tests can be applied to these variables.
Figure 1: Relationship between Behavioural Approach System and Regulatory Focus
It can be seen clearly from the scatterplot that as the scores increase for the behavioural approach system, the regulatory focus of the participant increases. Thus, the behavioural approach system is related positively with the regulatory focus of a person.
The behavioural approach system has an average score of 39.95 with a standard deviation of 5.041 and the regulatory focus has an average score of 19.41 with a standard deviation of 2.135. This indicates that the standard deviation is low for both the cases. Thus, most participants have secured an overall score of around 39.95 and 19.41 for behavioural approach system and regulatory focus respectively.
To establish the relationship between behavioural approach system and regulatory focus, a correlation and regression analysis has to be conducted. The two research questions framed in the introduction will be answered in this section. For the first research question, the correlation between the behavioural activation system and promotional self-regulation focus has been evaluated with the help of the correlation analysis. From the results of the analysis, it can be seen that the correlation coefficient between behavioural activation system and promotional self-regulation focus is 0.062. Thus, there is a positive relationship between the behavioural activation system and promotional self-regulation focus. The relationship is very weak.
To evaluate whether behavioural activation system can predict promotional self-regulation focus, a regression analysis has to be conducted. From the results of the regression analysis, it can be seen that the r-square value is 0.004. This indicates that only 0.4 percent of the variance in promotional self-regulation focus can be explained by behavioural activation system. If the behaviour activation scores increases by one unit, promotional self-regulation focus increases by 0.026 on an average.
From the analysis conducted above, it can be seen that the relationship between behavioural approach system and regulatory focus is very weak. The effect of motivational orientation on regulatory focus is almost negligible. According to the previous studies, there is a significant relationship between these two psychological factors. This has not been achieved in this research. Thus, the previous studies have been contradicted with the results obtained from this research.
This research has been conducted on a very small sample. A sample size this small might not be sufficient in referring the whole population. This might be one of the reasons that the results obtained is contradicting the results of the peer researches. In this research, behavioural approach system has been considered as the only measure of motivational orientation. There are a lot other factors that can represent the motivational orientation of an individual. Considering these factors might also give a result different from what has been obtained in this research.
With reference to the hedonic principle, it has been observed that there have been variations across people and situations on the regulatory focus. Positive and negative motivational states control the regulatory focus of an individual. Thus, it is time for the psychologists to opt an alternative way of hedonic principle. Regulatory focus is considered as an alternative to improve the motivational principle in individuals.
Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American psychologist, 52(12), 1280-1300.
Higgins, E. T. (1998). Promotion and prevention: Regulatory focus as a motivational principle. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 30, pp. 1-46). Academic Press.
Carver, C. S., Sutton, S. K., & Scheier, M. F. (2000). Action, emotion, and personality: Emerging conceptual integration. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 26(6), 741-751.
Förster, J., & Higgins, E. T. (2005). How global versus local perception fits regulatory focus. Psychological science, 16(8), 631-636.
Pintrich, P. R. (1999). The role of motivation in promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning. International journal of educational research, 31(6), 459-470.