We propose that people judge immoral acts as more offensive and moral acts as more virtuous when the acts are psychologically distant than near. This is because people construe more distant situations in terms of moral principles, rather than attenuating situation-specific considerations. Results of four studies support these predictions. Study 1 shows that more temporally distant transgressions (e.g., eating one's dead dog) are construed in terms of moral principles rather than contextual information. Studies 2 and 3 further show that morally offensive actions are judged more severely when imagined from a more distant temporal (Study 2) or social (Study 3) perspective. Finally, Study 4 shows that moral acts (e.g., adopting a disabled child) are judged more positively from temporal distance. The findings suggest that people more readily apply their moral principles to distant rather than proximal behaviors.
Psychological distance; Moral judgment; Construal level theory
Seven studies provide evidence that representations of the self at a distant-future time point are more abstract and structured than are representations of the self at a near-future time point and that distant-future behaviors are more strongly related to general self-conceptions. Distant-future self-representations incorporate broader, more superordinate identities than do near-future self-representations (Study 1) and are characterized by less complexity (Study 2), more cross-situational consistency (Study 3), and a greater degree of schematicity (Study 4). Furthermore, people’s behavioral predictions of their distant-future (vs. near-future) behavior are more strongly related to their general self-characteristics (Study 5), distant-future behaviors are seen as more self-expressive (Study 6), and distant-future behaviors that do not match up with acknowledged self-characteristics are more strongly rejected as reflections of the self (Study 7). Implications for understanding both the nature of the self-concept and the way in which distance may influence a range of self-processes are discussed.
self-concept; distance; time; construal; self-structure
Can psychological distance affect how much perceivers form spontaneous trait inferences (STI) from others’ behaviors? On the basis of construal level theory (CLT) which posits that distant (vs. near) entities are represented more in terms of their abstract, global, and decontextualized features, we predicted that perceived distance would increase the tendency for perceivers to draw spontaneous trait inferences from behavioral information about actors. In two experiments, participants learned about people who were perceived as being distant or proximal to the self, and STI formation was subsequently assessed. We found that perceivers were more likely to form STIs about distant vs. near actors from the same behavioral information. These findings generalized across two distance dimensions: space and time. In addition, we found that priming individuals to adopt a high-level (vs. low-level) construal mindset also resulted in increased STI (Experiment 3). In sum, psychological distance facilitates STI formation, and this occurs via high-level construal of actors and their behaviors.
Person perception; Social cognition; Trait inference; Construal; Psychological distance
According to politeness theory (P. Brown & S. Levinson, 1987), politeness serves to both reflect and regulate social distance. On the basis of this notion and on construal level theory (N. Liberman & Y. Trope, 2008; N. Liberman, Y. Trope, & E. Stephan, 2007), it was predicted that politeness would be related to abstract construal, temporal distance, and spatial distance. Eight studies supported this prediction. Politeness increased when the addressees were construed abstractly (Study 1), were temporally distant (Studies 2, 3), and were spatially distant (Study 4). It was also found that increasing politeness produced abstract construals (Study 5), greater temporal distance (Study 6), and greater spatial distance (Study 7, 8). These findings shed light on the way politeness operates in different cultures and is conveyed in different languages, and they support the idea that dimensions of psychological distance are interrelated.
politeness; psychological distance; social distance; construal level theory
Being able to envision emotional events that might happen in the future has a clear adaptive value. This study addressed the functional neuroanatomy of this process and investigated whether it is modulated by temporal distance. Participants imagined positive and negative events pertaining to the near future or far future while their brain activity was measured with fMRI. The results demonstrate that the anterior part of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) was more active in envisioning emotional events in the far future than in the near future, whereas the caudate nucleus was engaged in envisioning emotional (especially positive) situations in the near future. We argue that the anterior part of the vmPFC might assign emotional values to mental representations of future events that pertain to long-term goals. On the other hand, the caudate might support more concrete simulations of action plans to achieve rewarding situations in the near future.
People directly experience only themselves here and now but often consider, evaluate, and plan situations that are removed in time or space, that pertain to others’ experiences, and that are hypothetical rather than real. People thus transcend the present and mentally traverse temporal distance, spatial distance, social distance, and hypotheticality. We argue that this is made possible by the human capacity for abstract processing of information. We review research showing that there is considerable similarity in the way people mentally traverse different distances, that the process of abstraction underlies traversing different distances, and that this process guides the way people predict, evaluate, and plan near and distant situations.
When animals code stimuli for later retrieval they can either code them in terms of the stimulus presented (as a retrospective memory) or in terms of the response or outcome anticipated (as a prospective memory). Although retrospective memory is typically assumed (as in the form of a memory trace), evidence of prospective coding has been found when response intentions and outcomes are particularly salient. At a more abstract level is the question of whether animals are able figuratively to travel back in time to recover memories of past events (episodic memory) and forward in time to predict future events (future planning). Although what would constitute adequate evidence of episodic memory and future planning is controversial, preliminary evidence suggests that animals may be capable of both forms of subjective time travel.
Construal level theory (CLT) is an account of how psychological distance influences individuals’ thoughts and behavior. CLT assumes that people mentally construe objects that are psychologically near in terms of low-level, detailed, and contextualized features, whereas at a distance they construe the same objects or events in terms of high-level, abstract, and stable characteristics. Research has shown that different dimensions of psychological distance (time, space, social distance, and hypotheticality) affect mental construal and that these construals, in turn, guide prediction, evaluation, and behavior. The present paper reviews this research and its implications for consumer psychology.
Over the course of life, most people work towards temporally distant rewards such as university degrees or work-related promotions. In contrast, many people with schizophrenia show deficits in behavior oriented toward long-term rewards, although they function adequately when rewards are more immediately present. Moreover, when asked about possible future events, individuals with schizophrenia show foreshortened future time perspectives relative to healthy individuals. Here, we take the view that these deficits are related and can be explained by cognitive deficits. We compared participants with schizophrenia (N=39) and healthy participants' (N=25) performance on tasks measuring reward discounting and future event representations. Consistent with previous research, we found that relative to healthy participants, those with schizophrenia discounted the value of future rewards more steeply. Furthermore, when asked about future events, their responses were biased toward events in the near future, relative to healthy participants' responses. Interestingly, although discounting and future representations were unrelated in healthy participants, we found significant correlations across the tasks among participants with schizophrenia, as well as correlations with cognitive variables and symptoms. Further analysis showed that statistically controlling working memory eliminated group differences in task performance. Together these results suggest that the motivational deficits characteristic of schizophrenia relate to cognitive deficits affecting the ability to represent and/or evaluate distant outcomes, a finding with important implications for promoting recovery from schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia; reward; time perspectives; delay discounting; cognitive function
It is argued that the temporal distance of attitude objects systematically changes how the object is mentally represented, and thus influences the strength of particular persuasive appeals. Three experiments tested the hypothesis that people preferentially attend to arguments that highlight primary, abstract (high-level) vs. incidental, concrete (low-level) features when attitude objects are temporally distant vs. near. Results suggested that when attitude objects are temporally distant vs. near, arguments emphasizing primary vs. secondary features (Study 1), desirability vs. feasibility features (Study 2), and general classes vs. specific cases are more persuasive (Study 3). The relation of construal theory to dual process theories of persuasion and persuasion phenomena, such as personal relevance effects and functional matching effects, are discussed.
mental construal; temporal distance; persuasion; attitude change; construal level theory
Greek-affiliated college students have been found to drink more heavily and frequently than other students. With female student drinking on the rise over the past decade, sorority women may be at particular risk for heavy consumption patterns. The current study is the first to apply the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to examine drinking patterns among a sorority-only sample. Two-hundred and forty-seven sorority members completed questionnaires measuring TPB variables of attitudes, norms, perceived behavioral control, and intentions, with drinking behaviors measured one month later. Latent structural equation modeling examined the pathways of the TPB model. Intentions to drink mediated the relationship between attitudes and norms on drinking behavior. Subjective norms predicted intentions to drink more than attitudes or perceived behavioral control. Perceived behavioral control did not predict intentions but did predict drinking behaviors. Interpretation and suggestions from these findings are discussed.
Theory of Planned Behavior; sorority members; female students; college drinking; intentions
This article describes the integrative model of behavioral prediction (IM), the latest formulation of a reasoned action approach. The IM attempts to identify a limited set of variables that can account for a considerable proportion of the variance in any given behavior. More specifically, consistent with the original theory of reasoned action, the IM assumes that intentions are the immediate antecedents of behavior, but in addition, the IM recognizes that environmental factors and skills and abilities can moderate the intention-behavior relationship. Similar to the theory of planned behavior, the IM also assumes that intentions are a function of attitudes, perceived normative pressure and self-efficacy, but it views perceived normative pressure as a function of descriptive as well as of injunctive (i.e., subjective) norms. After describing the theory and addressing some of the criticisms directed at a reasoned action approach, the paper illustrates how the theory can be applied to understanding and changing health related behaviors.
medical decision making; attitude; behavioral prediction; reasoned action; integrative model
The study examines perceptions of infidelity, paying particular attention to how these perceptions differ based on biological sex and personality traits, specifically agency and communion and their unmitigated counterparts. The study utilizes a sample of 125 male and 233 female college students. In addition to the personality measures, participants completed a 19-item checklist that assessed their perceptions of specific items that could potentially be construed as infidelity. It was hypothesized that females would construe more items as infidelity than would males. It was also predicted that unmitigated communion and communion would be positively correlated with these perceptions and that unmitigated agency would be negatively correlated with these perceptions. No correlation was predicted between agency and infidelity. All hypotheses were supported. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
infidelity; communion; agency; questionnaire; relationship
Fever is a phylogenetically ancient host response to infection, being found in fish and lizards, and conserved, with all its metabolic costs, in the higher mammals, including man. The conservation of the fever response in evolution is used as an argument for its survival value and, indeed, in experiments with cold-blooded animals "behavioral fever" has been demonstrated to reduce mortality associated with infection. Recent advances in the biology of interleukin-1 and other cytokines have allowed the testing, in vitro, of components of mammalian host defense (such as immune cell function) at temperatures typical of fever, and marked effects have been found. It remains to be demonstrated, however, that the hyperthermia of fever has survival value in man, and though it might be predicted that fever would be beneficial in infections, it is quite possible that in some circumstances even mild fever could be construed as harmful. In autoimmunity, for example, increased T-cell activation at febrile temperatures may well accelerate disease progress.
The prevalence of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection amongst young adults represents an important public health problem in the UK. Individuals’ attitude towards the use of condoms has been identified as an important determinant of behavioural intentions and action. The Theory of Planned Behaviour has been widely used to explain and predict health behaviour. This posits that the degree to which an individual positively or negatively values a behaviour (termed ‘direct attitude’) is based upon consideration of the likelihood of a number of outcomes occurring (outcome expectancy) weighted by the perceived desirability of those outcomes (outcome evaluation). Outcome expectancy and outcome evaluation when multiplied form ‘indirect attitude’. The study aimed to assess whether positive outcome expectancies of unprotected sex were more important for young adults with lower safe sex intentions, than those with safer sex intentions, and to isolate optimal outcomes for targeting through health promotion campaigns.
A cross-sectional survey design was used. Data was collected from 1051 school and university students aged 16–24 years. Measures of intention, direct attitude and indirect attitude were taken. Participants were asked to select outcome expectancies which were most important in determining whether they would use condoms with casual sexual partners.
People with lower safe sex intentions were more likely than those with safer sex intentions to select all positive outcome expectancies for unprotected sex as salient, and less likely to select all negative outcome expectancies as salient. Outcome expectancies for which the greatest proportion of participants in the less safe sex group held an unfavourable position were: showing that I am a caring person, making sexual experiences less enjoyable, and protecting against pregnancy.
The findings point to ways in which the attitudes of those with less safe sex intentions could be altered in order to motivate positive behavioural change. They suggest that it would be advantageous to highlight the potential for condom use to demonstrate a caring attitude, to challenge the potential for protected sex to reduce sexual pleasure, and to target young adults’ risk appraisals for pregnancy as a consequence of unprotected sex with casual sexual partners.
Outcome expectancies; Condom use; Theory of planned behaviour; Attitude; Expectancy-value muddle; Dimensional salience
Organisms 'discount the future' when they value imminent goods over future goods. Optimal discounting varies: selection should favour allocations of effort that effectively discount the future relatively steeply in response to cues promising relatively good returns on present efforts. However, research on human discounting has hitherto focused on stable individual differences rather than situational effects. In two experiments, discounting was assessed on the basis of choices between a smaller sum of money tomorrow and a larger sum at a later date, both before and after subjects rated the 'appeal' of 12 photographs. In experiment 1, men and women saw either attractive or unattractive opposite-sex faces; in experiment 2, participants saw more or less appealing cars. As predicted, discounting increased significantly in men who viewed attractive women, but not in men who viewed unattractive women or women who viewed men; viewing cars produced a different pattern of results.
This study provided a simultaneous, confirmatory test of the theory of planned behavior (TPB) in predicting heavy episodic drinking (HED) among college students. It was hypothesized that past HED, drinking attitudes, subjective norms and drinking refusal self-efficacy would predict intention, which would in turn predict future HED. Participants consisted of 131 college drinkers (63% female) who reported having engaged in HED in the previous two weeks. Participants were recruited and completed questionnaires within the context of a larger intervention study (see Collins & Carey, 2005). Latent factor structural equation modeling was used to test the ability of the TPB to predict HED. Chi-square tests and fit indices indicated good fit for the final structural models. Self-efficacy and attitudes but not subjective norms significantly predicted baseline intention, and intention and past HED predicted future HED. Contrary to hypotheses, however, a structural model excluding past HED provided a better fit than a model including it. Although further studies must be conducted before a definitive conclusion is reached, a TPB model excluding past behavior, which is arguably more parsimonious and theory driven, may provide better prediction of HED among college drinkers than a model including past behavior.
college drinking; alcohol use; theory of planned behavior; heavy episodic drinking; college students
Health messages framed to be congruent with individuals' approach/avoidance motivations have been found to be more effective in promoting health behaviors than health messages incongruent with approach/avoidance motivations. This study examines the processes underlying this congruency effect. Participants (undergraduate students, N = 67) completed a measure of approach/avoidance orientation (the BIS/BAS scales) and read either a gain- or loss-framed message promoting dental flossing. Results demonstrated a congruency effect: Participants who read a congruently framed message had greater flossing efficacy, intended to floss more, and used more dental flosses than did the participants who read an incongruent message. Moreover, intention to perform the behavior predicted the congruency effect and self-efficacy mediated participants' intentions to perform the health behavior. Discussion centers on the role of personality factors and situational factors in models of behavior change.
Approach and avoidance motivation; Message framing; Health behavior; Self-efficacy; Behavioral intentions
A variety of methods, definitions, and theoretical notions that have been used in the study of inhibitory stimulus control were reviewed and evaluated. Preliminary data from several new operant methods were also described. It was proposed that future workers distinguish clearly between two forms of inhibitory control: (a) the learned power of a specific stimulus to reduce behavior, and (b) a dimensional effect, in which responding increases as values progressively more distant from the value of that specific stimulus along some dimension are presented (generalization gradient). Conclusions from several important recent studies were shown to be strongly dependent on the individual experimenter's criterion for deciding when a stimulus is inhibitory. The concept of inhibition seems a very valuable one for the field of operant behavior, and it deserves more attention than it has received in the past.
As social animals, we regularly act in the interest of others by making decisions on their behalf. These decisions can take the form of choices between smaller short-term rewards and larger long-term rewards, and can be effectively indexed by temporal discounting (TD). In a TD paradigm, a reward loses subjective value with increasing delay presumably because it becomes more difficult to simulate how much the recipient (e.g., future self) will value it. If this is the case, then the value of delayed rewards should be discounted even more steeply when we are choosing for someone whose feelings we do not readily simulate, such as socially distant strangers. Second, the ability to simulate shows individual differences and is indexed by trait empathy. We hypothesized that individuals high in trait empathy will more readily simulate, and hence discount less steeply for distant others, compared to those who are low on trait empathy. To test these predictions, we asked 63 participants from the general population to perform a TD task from the perspectives of close and distant others, as well as their own. People were found to discount less steeply for themselves, and the steepness of TD increased with increasing distance from self. Additionally, individuals who scored high in trait empathy were found to discount less steeply for distant others compared to those who scored low. These findings confirm the role of empathy in determining how we choose rewards for others.
empathy; reward; temporal discounting; social distance; simulation
Adolescents involved with the criminal justice system are at particularly high-risk for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and sexually transmitted infections.
The purpose of this study was to longitudinally examine gender-specific models of condom use, incorporating temporal stability of intentions.
Adolescents on probation (N=728) were recruited to complete longitudinal surveys including measures of Theory of Planned Behavior and gender-specific constructs, relationship length, and condom use.
Gender-specific models of condom use behavior suggested by previous research were mostly replicated. For young women, the effect of baseline intentions on subsequent condom use behavior was stronger when intentions were either stable or increasing. For young men, more stable, increasing intentions were directly associated with more condom use. There was preliminary evidence to suggest an association between temporal stability of intentions and decreasing condom use in stable relationships.
Intervention efforts should be tailored by gender and aim to forestall decreasing intentions and condom use over time by addressing difficulties in maintaining condom use.
Juvenile justice system; Risky sexual behavior; STIs/HIV; Temporal stability of intentions; Theory of planned behavior
Flexible decision-making strategies (such as planning) are a key component of adaptive behavior, yet their neural mechanisms have remained resistant to experimental analysis. Theories of planning require prediction and evaluation of potential future rewards, suggesting that reward signals may covertly appear at decision points. To test this idea, we recorded ensembles of ventral striatal neurons on a spatial decision task, in which hippocampal ensembles are known to represent future possibilities at decision points. We found representations of reward which were not only activated at actual reward delivery sites, but also at a high-cost choice point and before error correction. This expectation-of-reward signal at decision points was apparent at both the single cell and the ensemble level, and vanished with behavioral automation. We conclude that ventral striatal representations of reward are more dynamic than suggested by previous reports of reward- and cue-responsive cells, and may provide the necessary signal for evaluation of internally generated possibilities considered during flexible decision-making.
ventral striatum; reward; decision-making; nucleus accumbens; ensemble decoding
Both habit strength and action planning have been found to moderate the intention-exercise behaviour relationship, but no research exists that has investigated how habit strength and action planning simultaneously influence this relationship. The present study was designed to explore this issue in a prospective sample of undergraduate students (N = 415): action planning, habit strength, intention, attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control were assessed at baseline and exercise behaviour was assessed 2 weeks later. Both habit strength and action planning moderated the intention-exercise relationship, with stronger relationship at higher levels of planning or habit strength. Decomposing a significant action planning × habit strength × intention interaction showed that the strength of the intention-exercise relationship progressed linearly through levels of action planning and habit strength. These novel results show that action planning strengthens the intention-habit strength interaction in the exercise domain: exercise interventions should therefore focus on simultaneously bolstering action planning and habit strength.
Exercise behaviour; Intention-exercise relationship; Habit strength; Action planning; Interaction
The purpose of this study was to test a motivational model of the coach-athlete relationship, based on self-determination theory and on the hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The sample comprised of 608 athletes (ages of 12-17 years) completed the following measures: interest in athlete's input, praise for autonomous behavior, perceived autonomy, intrinsic motivation, and the intention to be physically active. Structural equation modeling results demonstrated that interest in athletes' input and praise for autonomous behavior predicted perceived autonomy, and perceived autonomy positively predicted intrinsic motivation. Finally, intrinsic motivation predicted the intention to be physically active in the future. The results are discussed in relation to the importance of the climate of autonomy support created by the coach on intrinsic motivation and adherence to sport by adolescent athletes. Further, the results provide information related to the possible objectives of future interventions for the education of coaches, with the goal of providing them with tools and strategies to favor the development of intrinsic motivation among their athletes. In conclusion, the climate of autonomy support created by the coach can predict the autonomy perceived by the athletes which predicts the intrinsic motivation experienced by the athletes, and therefore, their adherence to athletic practice.
Importance of the climate of autonomy support created by the coach on intrinsic motivation and adherence to sport by adolescent athletes.
Interest in athletes' input and praise for autonomous behavior predicted perceived autonomy, and perceived autonomy positively predicted intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation predicted the intention to be physically active in the future.
Autonomy support; perceived autonomy; intrinsic motivation; sport adherence.
This study examined the role of temporal orientation and affective frame in the execution of ethical decision-making strategies. In reflecting on a past experience or imagining a future experience, participants thought about experiences that they considered either positive or negative. The participants recorded their thinking about that experience by responding to several questions, and their responses were content-analyzed for the use of ethical decision-making strategies. The findings indicated that a future temporal orientation was associated with greater strategy use. Likewise, a positive affective frame was associated with greater strategy use. Future orientation may permit better strategy execution than a past orientation because it facilitates more objective, balanced contemplation of the reflected-upon situation, and minimizes potential self-threat associated with past behavior. A positive affective frame likely improves strategy execution because it facilitates active analysis of the experience. Future directions and implications of these findings are discussed.
Affective Framing; Ethical Decision-Making; Metacognitive Strategies; Sensemaking; Temporal Orientation