The interplay between regulatory focus and temporal distance in the health context

Aleksandra Berezowska*, Arnout R.H. Fischer, Hans C.M. van Trijp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study identifies how the interaction between temporal distance, regulatory focus, and framing of health outcomes affects individuals' intention to adopt a personalized nutrition service. Design: A 2 (temporal distance: immediate health outcomes vs. delayed health outcomes) × 2 (regulatory focus: prevention vs. promotion) × 2 (health outcome framing: illness prevention vs. health promotion) full-factorial between-subjects design. Methods: In two experiments with samples of 236 and 242 students, regulatory focus was manipulated by asking participants to describe which academic outcomes they want to either achieve or prevent and how they aim to do this. Temporal distance and health outcome framing were manipulated by modifying descriptions of personalized nutrition services. To study the process through which temporal distance, regulatory focus, and health outcome framing affect adoption intention, measures of perceived privacy risk and perceived personalization benefit were included as mediators. Results: The interaction between temporal distance and regulatory focus had a significant effect on adoption intention, perceived privacy risk, and perceived personalization benefit. For prevention-focused individuals' adoption intention was higher, perceived personalization benefit was higher, and perceived privacy risk was lower when health outcomes were immediate instead of delayed. These effects were not significant for promotion-focused individuals. Health outcome framing affected the interaction between temporal distance and regulatory focus, but only in Study 1. Only perceived personalization benefit served as a mediator. Conclusion: Tailoring temporal distance to individuals' regulatory focus increases adoption intention for personalized nutrition advice. Statement of contribution: What is already known on this subject? Intention to adopt dietary recommendations results from a cognitive decision-making process. Regulatory focus and temporal distance are relevant for the adoption of dietary recommendations. Temporal distance and regulatory focus are interrelated. What does this study add? The interaction between temporal distance and regulatory focus affects adoption intention. Interaction between temporal distance and regulatory focus moderates the cognitive process that drives adoption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-37
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Message framing
  • Personalized nutrition
  • Regulatory focus
  • Risk-benefit trade-off
  • Temporal distance


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