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Psychological distance and construal level : new insights and implications

Authors Yan, Dengfeng
Issue Date 2012
Summary Across three essays, my dissertation examines novel implications of the link between psychological distance and construal level, and also seeks to establish why this link exists in the first place. Essay 1 (chapter 2) investigates how consumers form quality inferences when provided with attribute and price information. The extant literature contains mixed findings regarding the relative influence of price versus attributes on quality perceptions. In addressing this issue, I propose and show that consumers’ reliance on price (vs. product attributes) for making quality inferences is enhanced when the judgment is psychologically distant (vs. proximal). Essay 2 (chapter 3) examines how consumers estimate health risks, arguing that reliance on base rate information (vs. case risk information) will be enhanced (weakened) by psychological distance. In addition to informing the literature on the utilization of base versus case information, this formulation enables us to address contrasting predictions as to whether people are prone to thinking themselves as being less at risk than others (a self-positivity bias) or more at risk than others (a self-negativity bias). I show that self-positivity manifests when the base rate of a disease is high but the case information suggests low risk, while self-negativity manifests with the reverse set of conditions: low base rate accompanied by high case risk. Despite considerable research examining the effects of psychological distance on construal level and related downstream consequences, relatively little work has been done on the question of exactly why distance affects construal. The third essay (chapter 4) provides one answer to this question by proposing that psychologically closer objects and events tend to be processed using visual imagery, while distant objects and events tend to be processed verbally. Furthermore, as compared to verbal processing, visual processing leads to relatively concrete (low-level) representations.
Note Thesis (Ph.D.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2012
Language English
Format Thesis
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