Reconstructing History: How Construal of Past Events Influences Judgments of Recency and Culpability

Ellie Kyung, New York University
Geeta Menon, New York University
Yaacov Trope, New York University
Given the reconstructive nature of memory for time, we examine how concrete and abstract mindsets during the recall of negative events can influence temporal judgments, and subsequent judgments of culpability. In a series of studies involving “blameworthy” news events (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, e.coli spinach contamination, Dell battery recall), we demonstrate that: 1) Construal level can systematically influence both objective (dates) and subjective (recency) temporal judgments of when events occurred; 2) The effects of construal on temporal judgments is dependent upon information availability such that individuals with low availability judge events to be more recent when thinking concretely and those with high availability judge events to be more recent when thinking abstractly); and 3) Decreased perceived temporal distance from an event results in reduced judgments of culpability.
[ to cite ]:
Ellie Kyung, Geeta Menon, and Yaacov Trope (2008) ,"Reconstructing History: How Construal of Past Events Influences Judgments of Recency and Culpability", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 149-152.