Mental traveling along psychological distances : the effects of cultural syndromes, perspective flexibility, and construal level

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Journal article

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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

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American Psychological Association


individualism/collectivism, short-/long-term orientation, perspective flexibility, psychological distance, construal level


Individuals’ psychological distance from the stimuli they encounter in daily life can influence the abstractness or generality of the mental representations they form of these stimuli. However, these representations can also depend on the perspective from which the stimuli are construed. When individuals have either an individualistic social orientation or a short-term temporal orientation, they construe psychologically distal events more globally than they construe proximal ones, as implied by construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2010). When they have either a collectivistic social orientation or a long-term temporal orientation, however, they not only construe the implications of distal events more concretely than individuals with an egocentric perspective but also construe the implications of proximal events in more abstract terms. These effects are mediated by the flexibility of the perspectives that people take when they make judgments. Differences in perspective flexibility account for the impact of both situationally induced differences in social and temporal orientation and more chronic cultural differences in these orientations.



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Additional Information

This research was supported in part by Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project CUHK 452813). This article is based on the doctoral dissertation of the first author under the supervision of the second author at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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Wong, V. C., & Wyer, R. S. (2016). Mental traveling along psychological distances: The effects of cultural syndromes, perspective flexibility, and construal level. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(1), 17-33. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000048