Traversing psychological distance involves going beyond direct experience, and includes planning, perspective taking, and contemplating counterfactuals. Consistent with this view, temporal, spatial, and social distances as well as hypotheticality are associated, affect each other, and are inferred from one another. Moreover, traversing all distances involves the use of abstraction, which we define as forming a belief about the substitutability for a specific purpose of subjectively distinct objects. Indeed, across many instances of both abstraction and psychological distancing, more abstract constructs are used for more distal objects. Here, we describe the implications of this relation for prediction, choice, communication, negotiation, and self-control. We ask whether traversing distance is a general mental ability and whether distance should replace expectancy in expected-utility theories.
- Construal level theory
- Psychological distance