The aim of this study is to contribute to previous research by investigating the principle of regulatory congruence in two-sided advertising messages. Additionally, it…
The aim of this study is to contribute to previous research by investigating the principle of regulatory congruence in two-sided advertising messages. Additionally, it addresses the underlying mechanisms of the congruence effect.
The study encompasses two experiments: a two-level between-subjects design, manipulating the message’s frame (prevention vs promotion), while measuring respondents’ chronic self-regulatory focus (prevention vs promotion), and a 2 × 2 between-subjects design, manipulating processing depth (central vs peripheral) and message frame (prevention- vs promotion-oriented), while measuring individuals’ chronic self-regulatory focus (prevention vs promotion).
Study 1 shows that in two-sided messages, the effect of regulatory congruence on attitudes toward the message depends on individuals’ self-regulatory focus: a congruence effect was only found in promotion-focused individuals. This congruence effect was driven by processing fluency. The second study builds on the first one by exploring the absence of a congruence effect found in prevention-focused individuals. Its results show that in prevention-focused individuals, processing depth influences regulatory congruence effects in two-sided messages. Under peripheral processing, prevention-focused individuals have more positive attitudes toward the issue when two-sided messages are congruent with their self-regulatory focus. Under central processing, on the other hand, a regulatory incongruence effect on attitudes occurs.
This study complements prior research by examining the validity of the regulatory congruence principle in the context of two-sided messages. Moreover, it addresses the underlying mechanisms driving regulatory (in)congruence effects. As such, our study contributes both to the existing research on two-sided messages and that on regulatory focus.