Psychological Distance Promotes Exploration in Search of a Global Maximum

Daniel A. Yudkin, Rotem Pick, Elina Yewon Hur, Nira Liberman, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Agents must sometimes decide whether to exploit a known resource or search for potentially more profitable options. Here, we investigate the role of psychological distancing in promoting exploratory behavior. We argue that exploration dilemmas pit the value of a reward (“desirability”) against the difficulty or uncertainty of obtaining it (“feasibility”). Based on construal level theory, which suggests that psychological distance increases the importance of rewards’ desirability (vs. feasibility), we expect that psychological distance will increase exploration. Four experiments support this prediction. In Experiment 1, participants who were prompted to consider an exploration game from a physically distanced perspective were more likely to leave a local maximum in search of a global maximum. Experiments 2 and 3 show that social distance has similar results. Experiment 4 finds evidence of a direct association between construal mind-set and exploration. Overall, this research highlights how psychological distancing strategies can promote exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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Psychology
Reward
Social Distance
Exploratory Behavior
Uncertainty
Research

Keywords

  • construal level
  • exploration
  • psychological distance
  • search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Psychological Distance Promotes Exploration in Search of a Global Maximum. / Yudkin, Daniel A.; Pick, Rotem; Hur, Elina Yewon; Liberman, Nira; Trope, Yaacov.

In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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