- Cognitive consequences of novelty and familiarity: how mere exposure influences level of construal
- Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 45 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Two experiments examine whether frequency of exposure influences level of construal. Using subliminal presentation, participants were exposed to neutral, unknown letters 0, 5, 15, or 40 times, and a typical mere exposure effect was found on evaluation. However, we hypothesized and showed in Experiment 1 that novelty enhances Gestalt-like, global perception, whereas familiarity bolsters detail-oriented, local perception. Furthermore, in Experiment 2, we demonstrated that participants generated more abstract solutions for items presented less frequently. These results support a Construal level theory [Liberman, N., Trope, Y., & Stephan, E. (2007). Psychological distance. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski, Social psychology, handbook of basic principles. New York: Guilford Press.] contention that distance from direct experience is associated with high construal level and global processing. It seems that in order to prepare for novel events, people automatically engage in higher levels of construal. New information needs to be integrated into existing knowledge structures in order to be understood, and abstract categories and global processing may support the process of understanding.
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