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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2004 Aug;87(2):177-89.

Temporal construal effects on abstract and concrete thinking: consequences for insight and creative cognition.

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  • 1International University Bremen, Bremen, Germany. j.foerster@iu-bremen.de


Six studies investigate whether and how distant future time perspective facilitates abstract thinking and impedes concrete thinking by altering the level at which mental representations are construed. In Experiments 1-3, participants who envisioned their lives and imagined themselves engaging in a task 1 year later as opposed to the next day subsequently performed better on a series of insight tasks. In Experiments 4 and 5 a distal perspective was found to improve creative generation of abstract solutions. Moreover, Experiment 5 demonstrated a similar effect with temporal distance manipulated indirectly, by making participants imagine their lives in general a year from now versus tomorrow prior to performance. In Experiment 6, distant time perspective undermined rather than enhanced analytical problem solving.

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