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Cognitive consequences of novelty and familiarity : how mere exposure influences level of construal

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Förster, Jens

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Abstract 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, Trope, & Stephan, 2007) 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.
Classification Social Psychology
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 444-447
Journal Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45 (2009) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)