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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a perspective on the mental representation of persons, groups, and the self that parsimoniously unifies existing distinctions, such as abstract versus concrete, schematic versus aschematic, and prototype versus exemplar, within the umbrella of high- versus low-level construal. This perspective is derived from construal level theory (CLT; see Trope & Liberman, 2010, for a review), which offers one perspective on when high-level construal will be favored over relatively more low-level construal. Specifically, CLT is a theory that explains the relationship between psychological distance and level of construal. The chapter reviews past work on the structure of mental representations and describes relevant research within CLT, as well as other aspects of high- and low-level construal that go beyond traditional distinctions. Finally, research is presented on the associations among different construal level dimensions that supports the argument for a common underlying function: namely, that high-level construals, by preserving essential features, support “mental travel,” whereas low-level construals are bound to “me here and now.”

Keywords: mental representation, level of construal, psychological distance

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