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Temporal Construal Theory

  • By: Kentaro Fujita, Yaacov Trope & Nira Liberman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)
Definition

Temporal construal theory is a general theoretical framework that describes the effects of psychological distance on thinking, decision making, and behavior. Psychologically distant objects and events are those beyond one's direct experience of the here and now and can be distant on a number of dimensions: time, space, social distance (self vs. other, ingroup vs. outgroup), and hypotheticality. A central proposition of temporal construal theory is that psychologically distant objects or events evoke mental representations, or construals, that capture the general and essential features of the objects or events (i.e., high-level construals), whereas psychologically near objects or events bring to mind unique, concrete, and incidental features (i.e., low-level construals). The activation of highversus low-level construals produces systematic differences in individuals' understanding of objects and events, ...

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