Preparing for Novel Versus Familiar Events: Shifts in Global and Local Processing

Jens Förster*, Nira Liberman, Oren Shapira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Six experiments examined whether novelty versus familiarity influences global versus local processing styles. Novelty and familiarity were manipulated by either framing a task as new versus familiar or by asking participants to reflect upon novel versus familiar events prior to the task (i.e., procedural priming). In Experiments 1-3, global perception was enhanced after novelty priming or framing, whereas familiarity priming facilitated local perception relative to a control group. In Experiment 4, participants used more inclusive categories under novelty priming and narrower categories under familiarity priming. In Experiments 5-6, participants construed actions and products more abstractly when these were framed as novel as compared to familiar. These results support the construal level theory (N. Liberman & Y. Trope, 2008; Y. Trope & N. Liberman, 2003) contention that having less direct experience is associated with using higher construal levels. Implications of the findings for research on mood, processing styles, stereotypes, and consumer research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-399
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • conceptual scope
  • construal level
  • novelty
  • procedural priming
  • processing styles


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