The Effects of Construal Level on Heuristic Reasoning: The Case of Representativeness and Availability


    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Reasoning heuristics underlie many judgments (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). However, the distinction among these heuristics has never been clear. Availability (the ease with which specific instances come to mind) and representativeness (judgments based on the similarity between a target and an abstract representation) have been used to account for the same phenomena, and the processes underlying each heuristic have not been definitively identified. Construal level theory suggests that events can be represented at either a higher, more abstract level, or a lower, more concrete level, although the effect of construal level on heuristic reasoning has not been fully explored. We propose that high levels of construal increase reliance on the representativeness heuristic, whereas low levels of construal favor the use of availability. In three studies, we test whether the effect of construal level on heuristic reasoning depends on the process proposed to underlie each heuristic. Low levels of construal increase the salience of and concreteness of features and thus increase decisions relying on the availability heuristic (Study 3). On the other hand, because an abstract construal level increases the focus on similarity and abstract representations, high levels of construal increase reliance on the representativeness heuristic (Studies 1, 2, and 3).

    loading  Loading Related Articles