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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1931825
 
 

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Psychological Distance and Subjective Experience: How Distancing Reduces the Feeling of Difficulty


Manoj Thomas


Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Claire I. Tsai


University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management

December 2011

Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming
Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 47-2011

Abstract:     
Psychological distance can reduce the subjective experience of difficulty caused by task complexity and task anxiety. Four experiments were conducted to test several related hypotheses. Psychological distance was altered by activating a construal mindset and by varying bodily distance from a given task. Activating an abstract mindset reduced the feeling of difficulty. A direct manipulation of distance from the task produced the same effect: Participants found the task to be less difficult when they distanced themselves from the task by leaning back in their seats. The experiments not only identify psychological distance as a hitherto unexplored but ubiquitous determinant of task difficulty, they also identify bodily distance as an antecedent of psychological distance.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 62

Keywords: Psychological distance, construal level, feeling of difficulty

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Date posted: September 22, 2011 ; Last revised: December 19, 2011

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Manoj and Tsai, Claire I., Psychological Distance and Subjective Experience: How Distancing Reduces the Feeling of Difficulty (December 2011). Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming; Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 47-2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1931825

Contact Information

Manoj Thomas (Contact Author)
Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )
353 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-7207 (Phone)
607-254-4590 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://forum.johnson.cornell.edu/faculty/mthomas/

Claire I. Tsai
University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management ( email )
105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6
Canada
416 946 3128 (Phone)
416 978 5433 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/facbios/viewFac.asp?facultyID=Claire.Tsai

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