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Lermer, Eva; Streicher, Bernhard; Sachs, Rainer; Raue, Martina; Frey, Dieter (February 2015): The effect of construal level on risk-taking. In: European Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 45: pp. 99-109
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Abstract

In a series of studies, we examined the influence of people’s mind-set (construal level (CL): abstract versus concrete) on their risktaking behavior. We measured differences in CL (study 1, CL as trait) and manipulated CL (studies 1–5, CL as state) with different priming methods, which were unrelated to the dependent variable of risk-taking behavior (studies 1, 3, 4, and 5: Balloon Analog Risk Task; study 2: Angling Risk Task). In all studies, abstract CL resulted in greater risk-taking compared with concrete CL, which led to lower risk-taking. Risky and safe game strategies mediated the CL effect on risk-taking. A concrete mind-set increased the safe game strategy, whereas an abstract mind-set increased the risky game strategy. Furthermore, different potential mediators were explored (i.e., focus on payoffs and probabilities, prevention versus promotion focus, attention to pros versus cons, and mood). A concrete mind-set increased prevention strategies and a negative mood when compared with an abstract mind-set. In turn, an abstract mind-set increased attention to pros (of an action).