Traversing psychological distance

Nira Liberman, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Traversing psychological distance involves going beyond direct experience, and includes planning, perspective taking, and contemplating counterfactuals. Consistent with this view, temporal, spatial, and social distances as well as hypotheticality are associated, affect each other, and are inferred from one another. Moreover, traversing all distances involves the use of abstraction, which we define as forming a belief about the substitutability for a specific purpose of subjectively distinct objects. Indeed, across many instances of both abstraction and psychological distancing, more abstract constructs are used for more distal objects. Here, we describe the implications of this relation for prediction, choice, communication, negotiation, and self-control. We ask whether traversing distance is a general mental ability and whether distance should replace expectancy in expected-utility theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-369
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume18
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Abstraction
  • Construal level theory
  • Psychological distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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