European Journal of Social Psychology vol:45 issue:5 pages:587-598
Self-interested behavior may have positive consequences for individual group-members, but also negatively affects the outcomes of the group when group-level and individual-level interests are misaligned. In two studies, we examined such self-interested, group-undermining behavior from the perspective of regulatory focus theory. We predicted that when individual and group interests are out of alignment, individuals under promotion focus would be more likely than individuals under prevention focus to pursue individual success at the expense of their group. Two studies provided support for this prediction. Promotion oriented individuals were more willing to act in their self-interest (at the expense of their group) than individuals under prevention focus when self-interested goals were not compatible with cooperation. No effect of regulatory focus on group loyalty was found when cooperation formed the only viable route to individual success. We discuss how these findings extend our understanding of the role of regulatory focus in social situations and of the practice of ensuring loyalty in contexts where individual and group goals are misaligned while cooperation is an important part of group success.