The effect of distance-dependent construals on schema-driven impression formation Academic Article uri icon


  • Two experiments examine how distance-dependent construal can affect trait aggregation in impression formation. We propose that, because higher- versus lower-level construals promote the tendency to impose schematic structure on information processing, higher-level construals should enhance schema-driven trait aggregation. We test this by examining a classic impression formation phenomenon: the primacy effect (Asch, 1946). Increasing temporal distance (Study 1a) and priming higher-level construals (Study 1b) led participants to form more favorable impressions of targets described initially as intelligent versus envious. Decreasing temporal distance and priming lower-level construals, in contrast, reversed the primacy effect. Thus, the distance of a target, with its associated construal, can impact the aggregation of traits and consequently impacts people's evaluations of others.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011