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Title:Increasing Level of Aspiration by Matching Construal Level and Temporal Distance: The Motivating Effects of Contemplating "how" Now and "why" Later
Author(s):Fessel, Florian
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Roese, Neal J.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Cognitive
Abstract:Individuals trying to achieve goals often set a level of aspiration ahead of time, that is, they determine which specific outcomes in goal pursuit they desire to obtain. In the research contained in the current dissertation, I demonstrate that temporal distance and construal level have diametrically opposing effects on level of aspiration such that a concrete goal leads to a higher level of aspiration in the proximate future, but an abstract goal leads to a higher level of aspiration in the distant future. I propose two theoretical reasons why this interactive effect occurs. First, based on construal level theory (Liberman, Trope, & Stephan, 2007), I argue that these combinations of a goal's abstraction and distance afford functional advantages in goal pursuit. Second, given prior demonstrations of the relationship between concreteness and proximity on the one hand, and abstraction and distance on the other hand, I propose that these combinations providevalue from fit (Higgins, 2000), in that goal pursuit subjectively seems appropriate and important. In Study 1 I demonstrate that temporal distance indeed moderates the effects of construal level on the level of aspiration participants set for performance on a trivia quiz. In Study 2 I show that inducing a concrete versus abstract mindset for a goal in one domain influences the level of aspiration for a subsequent, unrelated goal depending on that goal's temporal distance. Finally, in Study 3 I investigate the underlying mechanisms for the results obtained in Studies 1 and 2. In particular, I demonstrate that, consistent with a value from fit account, temporal distance and construal level increase perceived importance in fit conditions. Further, Study 3 reveals that the effects of construal level and temporal distance on level of aspiration were partially mediated by the perceived importance of the goal. Taken together, this line of research points to one reason why prior research on the motivating effects of construal level has led to equivocal results by implicating the moderating role of temporal distance.
Issue Date:2009
Description:73 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI3392013
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:2009

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