When Does Feeling of Fluency Matter? How Abstract and Concrete Thinking Influence Fluency Effects

8 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2010 Last revised: 4 Apr 2011

See all articles by Claire I. Tsai

Claire I. Tsai

University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management

Manoj Thomas

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

It has been widely documented that fluency (ease of information processing) enhances evaluation. We propose and demonstrate in three experiments that this is not the case when people construe objects abstractly rather than concretely. Specifically, we find that priming people to think abstractly mitigates the effect of fluency on subsequent evaluative judgments (Studies 1 and 2). However, when feelings such as fluency are understood to be signals of value, fluency enhances evaluation in people primed to think abstractly (Study 3). These results suggest that abstract thinking helps distinguish central decision inputs from the less important, incidental inputs, whereas concrete thinking does not make such a distinction. Thus, abstract thinking can augment or attenuate fluency effects, depending on whether fluency is considered important or incidental information.

Keywords: Abstract Thinking, Mindset, Liking, Fluency, Charitable Giving, Feeling-Based Judgment, Heuristics and Biases

Suggested Citation

Tsai, Claire I. and Thomas, Manoj, When Does Feeling of Fluency Matter? How Abstract and Concrete Thinking Influence Fluency Effects (2011). Psychological Science, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 348-354, 2011, Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 13-2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1677064

Claire I. Tsai (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
416 946 3128 (Phone)
416 978 5433 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/facbios/viewFac.asp?facultyID=Claire.Tsai

Manoj Thomas

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/

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