High level of construal and psychological distance reduce melioration

Rotem Pick-Alony, Nira Liberman, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examined how level of construal and psychological distance affected performance in a task in which value of alternatives depended on frequency of choice. Melioration, a sub-optimal choice strategy that fails to take into account such value changes, has been found to be prevalent and difficult to change. Participants repeatedly chose between two buttons to earn as many coins as possible. Button A earned N coins, button B earned N+3 coins, and N was the number of A presses in the last five trials. In this situation, B has a higher immediate payoff, but because choosing A increases the return from both buttons for the next five trials, maximizing A choices is the optimal strategy. We predicted that because a global perspective is needed to appreciate the dependency of value on frequency of choice, frequency of choosing the globally maximizing alternative (A) would increase when participants apply a higher level of construal and assume a more psychologically distal perspective. Study 1 manipulated construal level through segmenting the sequence of trials into segments of different size, with bigger segments representing higher level of construal. In Study 2, participants played a practice game, and we manipulated the probability of playing the actual game. Both a higher level of construal and a lower probability of playing the actual game (higher distance) increased the number of A choices. These results suggest that a broad perspective that is induced by high level of construal or by psychological distancing may reduce sub-optimal, meliorating choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2014

Fingerprint

Numismatics
Psychology
value change
Values
performance
Psychological Distance
Construal
Psychological
Coins

Keywords

  • Construal level theory
  • Inter-temporal choice
  • Learning
  • Melioration
  • Psychological distance
  • Self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

High level of construal and psychological distance reduce melioration. / Pick-Alony, Rotem; Liberman, Nira; Trope, Yaacov.

In: Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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