Department or Program



Regulatory focus theory examines the ways people seek pleasure and avoid pain by proposing two different styles: promotion focused (eager to make positive things happen) and prevention focused (vigilant in avoiding negative situations). Studies have shown that high regulatory fit, when a person’s actions or experiences match their regulatory focus orientation, increases a person’s enjoyment of an action. The current study examines the role one’s regulatory focus and the framing of egalitarianism (positively or negatively) play in reactions to anti-egalitarian humor. It was hypothesized that those experiencing regulatory fit would react more negatively to anti-egalitarian humor. To investigate this hypothesis, two studies were conducted in which participants’ regulatory focus was primed with a regulatory focus priming task after which they were asked to complete a survey and rate their reactions to different videos, including a public service announcement framing egalitarianism positively or negatively and two anti-egalitarian jokes. While results from Study 1 did not support the regulatory fit hypothesis, results from Study 2 did. A significant effect was found for promotion focused participants where participants who viewed the positive PSA reacted more negatively to the anti-egalitarian humor than those who viewed the negative PSA. By contrast, there was a nonsignificant trend in the prevention focused group in the opposite direction so that participants reacted more negatively to the humor after seeing the negative PSA. Reasons for why the regulatory fit hypothesis was found for Study 2, but not Study 1, and implications of this finding on other fields are discussed.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Open Access After Expiration]

First Advisor

Sargent, Michael

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file