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Concept: Regulatory Focus Theory


A key challenge in studying reward processing in humans is to go beyond subjective self-report measures and quantify different aspects of reward such as hedonics, motivation, and goal value in more objective ways. This is particularly relevant for the understanding of overeating and obesity as well as their potential treatments. In this paper are described a set of measures of food-related motivation using handgrip force as a motivational measure. These methods can be used to examine changes in food related motivation with metabolic (satiety) and pharmacological manipulations and can be used to evaluate interventions targeted at overeating and obesity. However to understand food-related decision making in the complex food environment it is essential to be able to ascertain the reward goal values that guide the decisions and behavioral choices that people make. These values are hidden but it is possible to ascertain them more objectively using metrics such as the willingness to pay and a method for this is described. Both these sets of methods provide quantitative measures of motivation and goal value that can be compared within and between individuals.

Concepts: Decision making, Sociology, Cognition, Malnutrition, Motivation, Philosophy of life, Morality, Regulatory Focus Theory


The appearance of being scientific can increase persuasiveness. Even trivial cues can create such an appearance of a scientific basis. In our studies, including simple elements, such as graphs (Studies 1-2) or a chemical formula (Study 3), increased belief in a medication’s efficacy. This appears to be due to the association of such elements with science, rather than increased comprehensibility, use of visuals, or recall. Belief in science moderates the persuasive effect of graphs, such that people who have a greater belief in science are more affected by the presence of graphs (Study 2). Overall, the studies contribute to past research by demonstrating that even trivial elements can increase public persuasion despite their not truly indicating scientific expertise or objective support.

Concepts: Mathematics, Epistemology, Science, Nature, Regulatory Focus Theory, Society, Formula, Chemical formula


This study investigated the interactive effects of attitudinal ambivalence and health message framing on persuading people to eat less junk food. Within the heuristic-systematic model of information processing, an attitudinal ambivalence (ambivalent or univalent toward eating junk food) by health message framing (advantage- or disadvantage-framed appeals) between-subjects experiment was conducted to explore a cognitive resource-matching effect and the underlying mediation processes. Ambivalent individuals reported a higher level of cognitive elaboration than univalent individuals did. The disadvantage frame engendered more extensive cognitive elaboration than the advantage frame did. Ambivalent individuals were more persuaded by the disadvantage frame and, for them, cognitive elaboration mediated the persuasion process via the systematic route. Univalent individuals were equally persuaded by the advantage frame and the disadvantage frame and, for them, neither the perceived frame valence nor cognitive elaboration mediated persuasion. Discussion of the null results among the univalent group leads to a response-reinforcement explanation. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Concepts: Nutrition, Eating, Cognition, Regulatory Focus Theory, Valence, Persuasion


The aversive state of social exclusion can result in a broad range of cognitive deficits. Being unable or unmotivated to process relevant information, we assumed that social exclusion would also affect the success of persuasive attempts. We hypothesized that socially excluded people would adopt attitudes regardless of persuasion quality. In three studies using different manipulations of social exclusion and persuasion, we showed that participants who were socially excluded adopted persuasive messages regardless of argument quality. In contrast, this undifferentiated response was not shown by socially included participants who were more persuaded by high compared to low quality arguments. In Study 3, we moreover revealed that this pattern could only be replicated in reliable situations, that is, when the communicator appeared credible. These findings support the assumption that social exclusion can lead to reduced processing of information. (136 of 150 words).

Concepts: Adoption, Regulatory Focus Theory, Rhetoric, Persuasion


Much of contemporary American political rhetoric is characterized by liberals and conservatives advancing arguments for the morality of their respective political positions. However, research suggests such moral rhetoric is largely ineffective for persuading those who do not already hold one’s position because advocates advancing these arguments fail to account for the divergent moral commitments that undergird America’s political divisions. Building on this, we hypothesize that (a) political advocates spontaneously make arguments grounded in their own moral values, not the values of those targeted for persuasion, and (b) political arguments reframed to appeal to the moral values of those holding the opposing political position are typically more effective. We find support for these claims across six studies involving diverse political issues, including same-sex marriage, universal health care, military spending, and adopting English as the nation’s official langauge. Mediation and moderation analyses further indicated that reframed moral appeals were persuasive because they increased the apparent agreement between the political position and the targeted individuals' moral values.

Concepts: Critical thinking, United States, Logic, Morality, Regulatory Focus Theory, Social influence, Rhetoric, Persuasion


Motivated control refers to the coordination of behaviour to achieve affectively valenced outcomes or goals. The study of motivated control traditionally assumes a distinction between control and motivational processes, which map to distinct (dorsolateral versus ventromedial) brain systems. However, the respective roles and interactions between these processes remain controversial. We offer a novel perspective that casts control and motivational processes as complementary aspects - goal propagation and prioritization, respectively - of active inference and hierarchical goal processing under deep generative models. We propose that the control hierarchy propagates prior preferences or goals, but their precision is informed by the motivational context, inferred at different levels of the motivational hierarchy. The ensuing integration of control and motivational processes underwrites action and policy selection and, ultimately, motivated behaviour, by enabling deep inference to prioritize goals in a context-sensitive way.

Concepts: Behavior, Logic, Motivation, Human behavior, Statistical inference, Regulatory Focus Theory, Preference, Maslow's hierarchy of needs


It has been suggested that dopamine (DA) represents reward-prediction-error (RPE) defined in reinforcement learning and therefore DA responds to unpredicted but not predicted reward. However, recent studies have found DA response sustained towards predictable reward in tasks involving self-paced behavior, and suggested that this response represents a motivational signal. We have previously shown that RPE can sustain if there is decay/forgetting of learned-values, which can be implemented as decay of synaptic strengths storing learned-values. This account, however, did not explain the suggested link between tonic/sustained DA and motivation. In the present work, we explored the motivational effects of the value-decay in self-paced approach behavior, modeled as a series of ‘Go’ or ‘No-Go’ selections towards a goal. Through simulations, we found that the value-decay can enhance motivation, specifically, facilitate fast goal-reaching, albeit counterintuitively. Mathematical analyses revealed that underlying potential mechanisms are twofold: (1) decay-induced sustained RPE creates a gradient of ‘Go’ values towards a goal, and (2) value-contrasts between ‘Go’ and ‘No-Go’ are generated because while chosen values are continually updated, unchosen values simply decay. Our model provides potential explanations for the key experimental findings that suggest DA’s roles in motivation: (i) slowdown of behavior by post-training blockade of DA signaling, (ii) observations that DA blockade severely impairs effortful actions to obtain rewards while largely sparing seeking of easily obtainable rewards, and (iii) relationships between the reward amount, the level of motivation reflected in the speed of behavior, and the average level of DA. These results indicate that reinforcement learning with value-decay, or forgetting, provides a parsimonious mechanistic account for the DA’s roles in value-learning and motivation. Our results also suggest that when biological systems for value-learning are active even though learning has apparently converged, the systems might be in a state of dynamic equilibrium, where learning and forgetting are balanced.

Concepts: Educational psychology, Signal, Motivation, Human behavior, Dopamine, Regulatory Focus Theory, Operant conditioning, Reward system


Client behaviour change is at the heart of veterinary practice, where promoting animal health and welfare is often synonymous with engaging clients in animal management practices. In the medical realm, extensive research points to the link between practitioner communication and patient behavioural outcomes, suggesting that the veterinary industry could benefit from a deeper understanding of veterinarian communication and its effects on client motivation. Whilst extensive studies have quantified language components typical of the veterinary consultation, the literature is lacking in-depth qualitative analysis in this context. The objective of this study was to address this deficit, and offer new critical insight into veterinary communication strategies in the pursuit of client behaviour change. Role-play interactions (n = 15) between UK cattle veterinarians and an actress experienced in medical and veterinary education were recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. Analysis revealed that, overall, veterinarians tend to communicate in a directive style (minimal eliciting of client opinion, dominating the consultation agenda, prioritising instrumental support), reflecting a paternalistic role in the consultation interaction. Given this finding, recommendations for progress in the veterinary industry are made; namely, the integration of evidence-based medical communication methodologies into clinical training. Use of these types of methodologies may facilitate the adoption of more mutualistic, relationship-centred communication in veterinary practice, supporting core psychological elements of client motivation and resultant behaviour change.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Educational psychology, Behavior, Human behavior, Veterinary medicine, Regulatory Focus Theory, Veterinarian


OBJECTIVE: Does trait self-control (TSC) predict affective well-being and life satisfaction -positively, negatively, or not? METHOD: We conducted three studies (Study 1: n=414; 64.0% female; Mage =35.0 years; Study 2: n=208; 66.0% female; Mage =25.24 years; Study 3: n=234; 61.0% female; Mage =34.53 years). The key predictor was TSC, with affective well-being and life satisfaction ratings as key outcomes. Potential explanatory constructs including goal conflict, goal balancing, and emotional distress also were investigated. RESULTS: TSC is positively related to affective well-being and life satisfaction, and managing goal conflict is a key as to why. All studies, moreover, showed that the effect of TSC on life satisfaction was at least partially mediated by affect. Study 1’s correlational study established the effect. Study 2’s experience sampling study demonstrated that compared to those low in TSC, those high in TSC experience higher levels of momentary affect even as they experience desire, an effect partially mediated through experiencing lower conflict and emotional distress. Study 3 found evidence for the proposed mechanism-that TSC may boost well-being by helping people to avoid frequent conflict and balance vice-virtue conflicts by favoring virtues. CONCLUSION: Self-control positively contributes to happiness through avoiding and dealing with motivational conflict.

Concepts: Effect, Affect, Emotion, Regulatory Focus Theory, Affective neuroscience, Affect display, Happiness


Despite the first goal of the 2010 National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, the literacy demands of much health information exceeds the reading skills of most US adults. The objective of this study was to assess the health literacy level of publicly available patient education materials for people with sickle cell disease (SCD).

Concepts: Educational psychology, Management, Health literacy, Sickle-cell disease, Regulatory Focus Theory, Sickle, Literacy