Construing the Essence: The Effects of Construal Level on Genetic Attributions for Individual and Social Group Differences

Jaime L. Napier, Jamie B. Luguri, John F. Dovidio, Kathleen A. Oltman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present research links a nonsocial, contextual influence (construal level) to the tendency to endorse genetic attributions for individual and social group differences. Studies 1 to 3 show that people thinking in an abstract (vs. concrete) mind-set score higher on a measure of genetic attributions for individual and racial group differences. Study 4 showed that abstract (vs. concrete) construal also increased genetic attributions for novel groups. Study 5 explored the potential downstream consequences of construal on intergroup attitudes, and found that abstract (vs. concrete) construal led people to endorse genetic attributions in general and this was associated with increased anti-Black prejudice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1395-1407
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • construal-level theory
  • essentialism
  • genetic attributions
  • prejudice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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