Abstract Thinking Facilitates Aggregation of Information

Britt Hadar, Moshe Glickman, Yaacov Trope, Nira Liberman, Marius Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many situations in life (such as considering which stock to invest in, or which people to befriend) require averaging across series of values. Here, we examined predictions derived from construal level theory, and tested whether abstract compared with concrete thinking facilitates the process of aggregating values into a unified summary representation. In four experiments, participants were induced to think more abstractly (vs. concretely) and performed different variations of an averaging task with numerical values (Experiments 1–2 and 4), and emotional faces (Experiment 3). We found that the induction of abstract, compared with concrete thinking, improved aggregation accuracy (Experiments 1–3), but did not improve memory for specific items (Experiment 4).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1733-1743
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume151
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Abstraction
  • Construal level theory
  • Emotion perception
  • Numerical averaging

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