The Poetry of Psychological Distance: Bidirectional Associations Between Stimulus Speed and Its Psychological Distance and Construal Level

Ravit Nussinson, Inbar Rozenberg, Ayelet Hatzek, Sari Mentser, Mayan Navon, Michael Gilead, Almog Simchon, Noga Sverdlik, Nira Liberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Based on the cognitive–ecological approach and on logical–functional principles, in 12 studies (11 preregistered), we examine the novel hypotheses that psychological distance and construal level (CL) are associated in people’s minds with stimulus speed: the psychologically distant/abstract is slow, and the psychologically close/concrete is fast. The findings support our expectations. Study Set I examined the association between psychological distance and speed. Findings show that psychological distance is implicitly and explicitly associated with speed (Study 1), that psychological distance is seen as compatible with slow and proximity with fast (Study 2), that stimulus psychological distance affects its perceived speed (Study 3), and that stimulus speed affects its psychological distance (Study 4). Study Set II examined the association between construal level and speed. Findings show that construal level is explicitly associated with speed (Study 5), that abstract is seen as compatible with slow and concrete with fast (Study 6), that natural language word distribution structures reflect an association between abstractness and speed (Study 7), that construal level affects speed (Study 8), and that speed affects stimulus construal level (Study 9). Study Set III examined implications for communication and person perception. Findings suggest that slow-paced (vs. fast-paced) speech is associated with larger perceived spatial and social distance between speaker and audience and larger audiences (Studies 10a, 10b) and that people infer an expansive (contractive) regulatory scope from slow-paced (fast-paced) spoken messages (Study 11). We elaborate on possible mechanisms and their theoretical and practical implications in domains including decision making and urban design.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Early online date9 May 2024
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • construal level
  • psychological distance
  • speed

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