The Role of Feasibility and Desirability Considerations in Near and Distant Future Decisions: A Test of Temporal Construal Theory

Nira Liberman, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Temporal construal theory states that distant future situations are construed on a higher level (i.e., using more abstract and central features) than near future situations. Accordingly, the theory suggests that the value associated with the high-level construal is enhanced over delay and that the value associated with the low-level construal is discounted over delay. In goal-directed activities, desirability of the activity's end state represents a high-level construal, whereas the feasibility of attaining this end state represents a low-level construal. Study 1 found that distant future activities were construed on a higher level than near future activities. Studies 2 and 3 showed that decisions regarding distant future activities, compared with decisions regarding near future activities, were more influenced by the desirability of the end state and less influenced by the feasibility of attaining the end state. Study 4 presented students with a real-life choice of academic assignments varying in difficulty (feasibility) and interest (desirability). In choosing a distant future assignment, students placed relatively more weight on the assignment's interest, whereas in choosing a near future assignment, they placed relatively more weight on difficulty. Study 5 found that distant future plans, compared with near future plans, were related to desirability of activities rather than to time constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume75
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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