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Psychological Distance Promotes Transcending of Local Maxima

58 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017 Last revised: 19 Sep 2017

Daniel A. Yudkin

New York University (NYU)

Rotem Pick

Tel Aviv University

Yewon Hur

New York University (NYU)

Nira Liberman

Tel Aviv University - Department of Psychology

Yaacov Trope

New York University (NYU)

Date Written: April 1, 2017

Abstract

Decision-makers are often confronted with the dilemma of whether to exploit a known resource or to venture out in search of potentially more profitable options. Here, we investigate the role of psychological distancing strategies in such exploration behavior. We argue that exploration dilemmas pit the value of a reward (desirability) against the difficulty or uncertainty of obtaining that reward (feasibility), and based on construal level theory we expect that psychological distancing will lead people to prioritize desirability over feasibility and thus increase exploration. Five experiments test and support this prediction. In Experiments 1A and 1B, we sought to confirm the notion that exploration dilemmas conform to the feasibility/desirability decision structure. In Experiment 2, participants who were prompted to consider an exploration game from a more physically distanced perspective were more likely to leave a local maximum in search of a global maximum. Experiments 3 and 4 provide convergent evidence that a more socially distanced perspective similarly results in more exploration. Overall, this research points to the effect of psychological distancing strategies in promoting exploration.

Suggested Citation

Yudkin, Daniel A. and Pick, Rotem and Hur, Yewon and Liberman, Nira and Trope, Yaacov, Psychological Distance Promotes Transcending of Local Maxima (April 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2887154

Daniel Yudkin (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Rotem Pick

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel-Aviv, 6997801
Israel

Yewon Hur

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Nira Liberman

Tel Aviv University - Department of Psychology ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel-Aviv, 6997801
Israel

Yaacov Trope

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

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