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Motivated level of construal: How temperature affects the construal level of state-relevant stimuli

Hansen, J. & Steinmetz, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-3299-4858 (2019). Motivated level of construal: How temperature affects the construal level of state-relevant stimuli. Motivation and Emotion, doi: 10.1007/s11031-018-09750-w


Motivation affects perception, for example when people overestimate the psychological proximity of goal-relevant objects. Additionally, proximity maps onto more concrete (vs. abstract) construal. Following from these findings, we predicted that people construe goal-relevant stimuli more concretely than goal-irrelevant stimuli. Three experiments tested this idea (total N = 305). In Experiment 1, people who were warm (versus cold) grouped cold drinks into more and narrower categories, as cold drinks served their goal to cool off. In Experiment 2, heat simulations lead people to represent cooling actions (e.g., drinking cold water) in more concrete terms (i.e., as for how instead of why), whereas cold simulations lead people to represent warming actions in more concrete terms. In Experiment 3, participants evaluated heaters and ventilators based on concrete (i.e., single reviews) instead of abstract product information (i.e., overall ratings) if the product was motivationally relevant. These findings show that basic motivations can shift the level of abstraction at which people represent objects and actions.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher Keywords: Construal level, motivation, goals, warmth, cold
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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