Repeated everyday actions such as writing and reading have been proved to produce consistent mental schemata later used to represent social interactions. The preference for depicting the agent of an action to the left of the recipient (at least in Western societies) is known as the Spatial Agency Bias (SAB) and has been related to the rightward trajectory promoted by such activities. The question addressed here is whether the mental construal level used to process the given information affects the way such information is spatially represented. We hypothesized and found that high (vs. low) level of construal of a situation increases the tendency to adopt the SAB, as it promotes the use of an abstract and general mental schema to represent the given situation. In two experiments, we primed construal level and found that, when asked to depict an interaction with an agent and a recipient, participants under high construal level were more likely to adopt a left-to-right representation (Study 1 and 2). In contrast, under low construal level, participants were more likely to follow the trajectory suggested by contextual details, namely the presentation order of agent and recipient (Study 2). The results will be discussed in terms of boundary conditions and motives of the bias, as an embodied phenomenon.

SEEING THE FOREST FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: HOW CONSTRUAL LEVEL AFFECTS THE SPATIAL AGENCY BIAS.

SUITNER, CATERINA
2011

Abstract

Repeated everyday actions such as writing and reading have been proved to produce consistent mental schemata later used to represent social interactions. The preference for depicting the agent of an action to the left of the recipient (at least in Western societies) is known as the Spatial Agency Bias (SAB) and has been related to the rightward trajectory promoted by such activities. The question addressed here is whether the mental construal level used to process the given information affects the way such information is spatially represented. We hypothesized and found that high (vs. low) level of construal of a situation increases the tendency to adopt the SAB, as it promotes the use of an abstract and general mental schema to represent the given situation. In two experiments, we primed construal level and found that, when asked to depict an interaction with an agent and a recipient, participants under high construal level were more likely to adopt a left-to-right representation (Study 1 and 2). In contrast, under low construal level, participants were more likely to follow the trajectory suggested by contextual details, namely the presentation order of agent and recipient (Study 2). The results will be discussed in terms of boundary conditions and motives of the bias, as an embodied phenomenon.
16TH GENERAL MEETING OF THE EUROPEAN ASSOCITAION OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/179720
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