Construal-Level Theory of Psychological Distance

Yaacov Trope, Nira Liberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

People are capable of thinking about the future, the past, remote locations, another person's perspective, and counterfactual alternatives. Without denying the uniqueness of each process, it is proposed that they constitute different forms of traversing psychological distance. Psychological distance is egocentric: Its reference point is the self in the here and now, and the different ways in which an object might be removed from that point-in time, in space, in social distance, and in hypotheticality-constitute different distance dimensions. Transcending the self in the here and now entails mental construal, and the farther removed an object is from direct experience, the higher (more abstract) the level of construal of that object. Supporting this analysis, research shows (a) that the various distances are cognitively related to each other, (b) that they similarly influence and are influenced by level of mental construal, and (c) that they similarly affect prediction, preference, and action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-463
Number of pages24
JournalPsychological Review
Volume117
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010

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Keywords

  • abstraction
  • mental construal
  • mental travel
  • psychological distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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