Messaging organizational change: how regulatory fit relates to openness to change through fairness perceptions. STUDY 2

Published: 05-08-2019| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/9pvpxyfdrv.1
Marta Roczniewska,
E. Tory Higgins


[THIS IS DATA FOR STUDY 2] Regulatory fit theory predicts that matching a message to individuals’ motivational orientation feels right, thereby enhancing fairness perceptions. In two studies we tested whether, through fairness perceptions, regulatory fit relates to greater openness to change, especially when that change has negative consequences for its recipients. Study 1 was a field experiment conducted among primary and middle school teachers who, respectively, expected positive versus negative outcomes from an actual major education change in Poland. We manipulated message framing, describing the prospected change in a promotion-related or prevention-related way. We measured processing fluency, engagement, process fairness, and change openness. Study 2 was a vignette experiment where college graduates assessed their openness to a change in university policy regarding credits for research participation. We randomized change framing (promotion vs. prevention) and outcome (positive vs. negative) between the participants. Supporting the predictions, the decision process regarding the change was perceived as more fair when the message framing matched recipients’ regulatory focus. In line with our expectations, perceived fairness was linked with increased openness toward the change especially among individuals who could be hurt by the changes. In both studies, the fairness mechanism was crucial under these circumstances as compared to the competing mechanism of engagement (and fluency in Study 1).