Receivers' expectations for abstract versus concrete construals: Evidence for conversational relevance as a determinant of construal level.

A.E. Clark, G.R. Semin

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    Abstract

    How does conversational context shape the construal level of future events? According to construal-level theory, temporally distant events are construed more abstractly than close events due to an association between distance and construal level. The authors have argued that situated conversational relevancies determine construal level and therefore that construal level is flexible and determined in situ. Building on research that examined construal level in a language-production paradigm, this research examined the recipient's expectations for abstract versus concrete messages. Results supported the hypotheses that although temporal distance information should direct construal expectancies when shared knowledge information is not salient, social rules dictate that when salient, shared knowledge information determines construal level, overriding temporal distance. These findings support the reciprocal nature of conversational relevance and the symmetry between language production and reception. © 2008 Sage Publications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-167
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
    Volume27
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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