Testing the Validities of Construal-Level Theory on the Dimension of Social Distance: Using Social Priming Paradigm

Construal Level Theory (CLT; Trope & Liberman, 2010) assumes that psychological distance consist of 4 dimensions (i.e., physical distance, probability, social distance, and temporal distance) and that objects considered psychologically near tend to be more concretely construed, whereas distant ones more abstractly. So far, CLT has been tested on the 2 dimensions (physical distance and probability) particularly in the context of social priming, and the two were demonstrated to moderate apparently its assimilation effects (i.e., target persons primed negatively tend to be more negatively construed than neutrally, which occurs in psychologically near conditions, but not in distant). Social distance and temporal distance in this paradigm remain unexamined, however. Therefore, this study attempted to examine (1) effects of social distance on likability for target persons, as well as (2) CLT's cross-cultural validities in this paradigm, with 123 Japanese college students (Mage = 18.70 years; SDage = .71) in a 2 (Prime: Hostile vs. Neutral) × 2 (Social distance: Near vs. Distant) factorial design. Findings revealed that in "Socially Near" condition, participants primed with Neutral words tend to evaluate target persons more positively than those with Hostile, whereas in "Socially Distant", there found no significant differences between the two. Those findings are consistent with the previous findings on the two dimensions, which can be interpreted to demonstrate that social distance could be a moderator of social priming effects on social judgment (e.g., personal impression). In conclusion, those findings would extend supports to CLT (at least on social distance) and its cross-cultural validities.

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Author Information
Yunhee Kum, Kyushu University, Japan
Kazuo Kato, Kyushu University, Japan
Mio Kobayashi, Kyushu University, Japan

Paper Information Conference: ACP2018
Stream: Psychology and Education

Added on Monday, April 9th, 2018
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Posted by amp21