Seeing the Forest When Entry Is Unlikely: Probability As a Psychological Distance

Yaacov Trope, New York University
Cheryl Wakslak, New York University
Conceptualizing probability as psychological distance, we propose that decreasing an event’s probability leads individuals to represent the event by its central, abstract, features rather than by its peripheral, concrete features. Results indicated that when probabilities of events were low, participants were more broad and inclusive in their categorization of objects, increased their preference for general rather than specific activity descriptions, segmented ongoing behavior into fewer units, were more successful at abstracting visual information, and were less successful at identifying details missing within a coherent visual whole. Implications for probability assessment and choice under uncertainty are discussed.
[ to cite ]:
Yaacov Trope and Cheryl Wakslak (2008) ,"Seeing the Forest When Entry Is Unlikely: Probability As a Psychological Distance", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 26-30.