Beliefs About Abstraction: Low-Level and High-Level Construal Signal Different Lay Theories

Marie Crouzevialle, Petra C. Schmid, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Construal level theory identifies abstraction as the key process that guides the pursuit of distant goals and expands the scope of regulation beyond the here and now (Liberman & Trope, 2008; Trope et al., 2021). While low-level (concrete) construals are concrete representations that foster a narrow view on the immediate circumstances and allow people to focus on a small subset of concerns, high-level (abstract) construals enable people to consider variability and change by taking more distant targets into account. In the present research, we investigate how people associate construal level with lay theories and, in particular, how this association manifests in the inferences they draw about others. In line with predictions, results across eight experiments (N = 1,110) show that people associate high-level construal with growth theories and low-level construal with fixed theories. Moreover, Studies 4 and 5 demonstrate that construal level can selectively influence a candidate’s employability, depending on the hiring company’s organizational mindset. Overall, this research points out the importance of investigating people’s beliefs about abstraction, as it highlights how low-level and high-level construals can communicate distinct traits, characteristics, or intentions to peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1351-1367
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • abstraction
  • construal level
  • lay theories of ability
  • motivation
  • person-organization fit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Beliefs About Abstraction: Low-Level and High-Level Construal Signal Different Lay Theories'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this