Across seven studies, we investigated how people's motivation to signal a proximity or distance orientation affects their choice of visual versus verbal means of communication. To explore this question we asked people to communicate using visual or verbal means of representation within diverse contexts (friendship: Studies 1a–1b, 4, and 5, workplace interactions: Studies 2a–2b, and professional websites: Study 3). Across all studies we found that people prefer visual (versus verbal) means of communication when aiming to signal a proximity rather than distance orientation towards the recipient of the message. More broadly, we suggest that people are active agents who use different mediums in a strategic way (conscious or not) in order to dynamically influence distance: visual representations are used to signal preference to reduce distance, and verbal representations to signal preference to increase distance.
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Social Psychology|
|State||Published - Nov 2019|