Nira Liberman

Nira Liberman
Tel Aviv University | TAU · School of Psychological Sciences

Professor

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167
Publications
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23,913
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Publications

Publications (167)
Article
People tend to gradually reduce effort when performing lengthy tasks, experiencing physical or mental fatigue. Yet, they often increase their effort near deadlines. How can both phenomena co-occur? If fatigue causes the level of effort to decline, why does effort rise again near a deadline? The present article proposes a model to explain this patte...
Preprint
Performance on standardized academic aptitude tests (AAT) can determine important life outcomes. However, it is not clear whether and which aspects of the content of test questions affect performance. We examined the effect of psychological distance embedded in test questions. In Study 1 (N = 41,209), we classified the content of existing AAT quest...
Article
Full-text available
Many situations in life (such as considering which stock to invest in, or which people to befriend) require averaging across series of values. Here, we examined predictions derived from construal level theory, and tested whether abstract compared with concrete thinking facilitates the process of aggregating values into a unified summary representat...
Article
Full-text available
The Seeking Proxies for Internal States (SPIS) model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) proposes an account of OCD symptoms in terms of two core components: attenuation of access to internal states and seeking proxies for internal states. Specifically, the SPIS model posits that OCD is associated with difficulty in accessing various internal st...
Article
Background and Objectives Individuals with OCD tend to rely on explicit processing when performing implicit learning tasks. However, it is unclear whether this tendency reflects impaired capacity for implicit processing or a preference toward explicit processing. We sought to use a psychometrically valid task to examine the hypothesis that individu...
Preprint
Construal level theory suggests that less likely, more distant counterfactual events and actions will be represented more abstractly. However, the effect of hypotheticality on level of construal has been studied less than the effect of other dimensions of psychological distance (time, space, social distance) and recently did not replicate in two ex...
Article
The Seeking Proxies for Internal States (SPIS) model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) posits that OCD is associated with attenuated access to internal states. Here we explored the implications of this model in the realm of emotions. Participants with OCD, anxiety disorders, and non-clinical control participants completed the Mayer-Salovey-Car...
Article
According to Lee and Schwarz, the sensorimotor experience of cleansing involves separating one physical entity from another and grounds mental separation of one psychological entity from another. We propose that cleansing effects may result from symbolic cognition. Instead of viewing abstract meanings as emerging from concrete physical acts of clea...
Article
Full-text available
The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presented policymakers with the need to change people’s behavior in a fundamental way and for an extended period of time. Changing habits is difficult and requires sustained effort, and sustaining effort is especially difficult when it does not seem to yield conspicuous results. The COVID-19 pandemic present...
Article
In tasks that extend over time, people tend to exert much effort at the beginning and the end, but not in the middle, exhibiting the stuck-in-the-middle pattern (STIM). To date, little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying this effect. As the supplementary motor area (SMA) was previously implicated in coding prospective task-demands, we t...
Article
Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tend to report higher levels of disgust, but not much is known about factors that might underlie this relationship. The present study was motivated by the behavioral immune theory, which suggests that disgust has evolved as a protective reaction to potential presence of disease agents in the imme...
Article
Adaptive functioning requires the ability to both immerse oneself in the here and now as well as to move beyond current experience. We leverage and expand construal-level theory to understand how individuals and groups regulate thoughts, feelings, and behavior to address both proximal and distal ends. To connect to distant versus proximal events in...
Article
The commentaries address our view of abstraction, our ontology of abstract entities, and our account of predictive cognition as relying on relatively concrete simulation or relatively abstract theory-based inference. These responses revisit classic questions concerning mental representation and abstraction in the context of current models of predic...
Article
Background The Seeking Proxies for Internal States (SPIS) model of OCD asserts that obsessive-compulsive (OC) tendencies are associated with attenuated access to internal states. Here we explore the implications of this model for awareness of emotional valence. Methods In Study 1, participants with high and low OC tendencies (n=30 in each group) r...
Article
Free access until March 11, 2020, here: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1aRLI2Hx2jDOn In two studies, participants performed a switching task, and we provided to only half of them feedback on goal progress (how much of the task still remains). Importantly, this feedback did not inform participants on how well they performed. We found that participa...
Article
We examined how people perceived a person who expressed inappropriate physical disgust – a person who was either under‐disgusted by physically disgusting stimuli or over‐disgusted by neutral stimuli. Participants formed an impression of a target after receiving information on how s/he rated disgusting (Studies 1, 2) or neutral (Studies 2, 3) pictur...
Article
Negative generalization asymmetry (NGA) is a tendency to generalize negative attitudes more widely than positive attitudes. Studies found robust NGA for new objects that resemble both positive and negative learned objects, and even stronger NGA for new objects that resemble neither. Two biases were suggested to underlie NGA: (1) negative response b...
Article
Two studies tested whether a mindset manipulation would affect the filtering of distractors from entering visual working memory (VWM). In Study 1, participants completed a concrete mindset manipulation (by repeatedly describing how to perform an action), an abstract mindset manipulation (by repeatedly describing why to perform an action), and a bas...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, scientists have increasingly taken to investigate the predictive nature of cognition. We argue that prediction relies on abstraction, and thus theories of predictive cognition need an explicit theory of abstract representation. We propose such a theory of the abstract representational capacities that allow humans to transcend the “...
Article
Full-text available
The formation of attitudes or preferences for alternatives that consist of rapid numerical sequences has been suggested to reflect either a summation or an averaging principle. Previous studies indicate the presence of two mechanisms, accumulators (that mediate summation) and population-coding (that mediate averaging), which operate in preference f...
Article
Full-text available
The possibility that social power improves working memory relative to conditions of powerlessness has been invoked to explain why manipulations of power improve performance in many cognitive tasks. Yet, whether power facilitates working memory performance has never been tested directly. In three studies, we induced high or low sense of power using...
Article
Background and objectives: The Seeking Proxies for Internal States (SPIS) model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) postulates that obsessive-compulsive (OC) individuals have reduced access to their internal states and must therefore seek and rely on external proxies for these states. The present study extended this hypothesis to the feeling of...
Article
Full-text available
The formation of attitudes or preferences for alternatives that consist of rapid numerical sequences has been suggested to reflect either a summation or an averaging principle. Previous studies indicate the presence of two mechanisms, accumulators (that mediate summation) and population-coding (that mediate averaging), which operate in preference f...
Article
Full-text available
People apply what they learn from experience not only to the experienced stimuli, but also to novel stimuli. But what determines how widely people generalize what they have learned? Using a predictive learning paradigm, we examined the hypothesis that a low (vs. high) probability of an outcome following a predicting stimulus would widen generalizat...
Article
Full-text available
Agents must sometimes decide whether to exploit a known resource or search for potentially more profitable options. Here, we investigate the role of psychological distancing in promoting exploratory behavior. We argue that exploration dilemmas pit the value of a reward ("desirability") against the difficulty or uncertainty of obtaining it ("feasibi...
Article
We are regularly told about people at various locations around the globe, both near and far, who are in distress or in dire need. In the present research, we examined how the prospective donor’s psychological distance from a given victim may interact with the victim’s identification to determine the donor’s willingness to accede to requests for don...
Article
Background and objectives: In recent years we have proposed and investigated the Seeking Proxies for Internal States (SPIS) model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which postulates that deficient access to internal states is a key feature of the disorder. According to this model, rules and rituals that often characterize people with OCD can...
Preprint
Full-text available
When a person states that s/he is disgusted by an outgroup, what can we conclude about his/her attitudes, beliefs, and character? Based on an analysis of physical disgust, we predicted that expressing disgust toward a social group would convey a belief that this group possesses a negative essence; namely, that it has a biological basis, and clear b...
Article
Full-text available
The present studies were motivated by the hypothesis that attenuated access to internal states in obsessive-compulsive (OC) individuals, which leads to extensive reliance on external proxies, may manifest in a maximizing decision making style, i.e., to seeking the best option through an exhaustive search of all existing alternatives. Following prev...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background: Previous studies have shown that people with OCD tend to rely on explicit processing when performing implicit learning tasks. However, it is unclear whether these findings reflect an impaired capacity for implicit-automatic processing, or a strategic preference toward explicit-controlled processes. The study examined the hypothesis that...
Article
We agree with Gal and Rucker (2018 – this issue) that loss aversion is not as firmly established as typically assumed. We affirm, however, the more general principle put forward within Prospect Theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), which is that reference points increase people's sensitivity to objective changes in value. We show how the literatures o...
Article
When facing a decision, people look for relevant information to guide their choice. But how much information do they seek to obtain? Based on Construal Level Theory, we predicted that psychological distance from a decision would make participants seek more information prior to making a decision. Five experiments supported this prediction. When faci...
Article
Full-text available
Evaluating alternatives and comparing them to each other are integral to decision-making. In addition, however, decision makers may adopt a view that goes beyond choice and make inferences about the entire set of alternatives, about the dimensions that are relevant in similar decisions, and about the range of values on a specific dimension. We exam...
Article
How does our brain allow us comprehend abstract/symbolic descriptions of human action? Whereas past research suggested that processing action language relies on sensorimotor brain regions, recent work suggests that sensorimotor activation depends on participants' task goals, such that focusing on abstract (vs. concrete) aspects of an action activat...
Article
Background and objective: People's feelings are not always accessible to them, and this might be especially the case for some individuals and in some situations. Based on our model of obsessive-compulsive disorder, we predicted that obsessive-compulsive (OC) tendencies and situationally induced doubt would be associated with decreased access to on...
Article
Full-text available
While those we learn from are often close to us, more and more our learning environments are shifting to include more distant and dissimilar others. The question we examine in 5 studies is how whom we learn from influences what we learn and how what we learn influences from whom we choose to learn it. In Study 1, we show that social learning, in an...
Article
People’s evaluations of their achievements and outcomes are strongly influenced by their standing relative to targets of comparison. Research suggests that, on the whole, people tend to compare themselves to interpersonally similar others. We qualify this finding by exploring the circumstances under which people compare themselves to dissimilar oth...
Chapter
People are frequently asked to judge, evaluate, predict, and make decisions about events that occur beyond their immediate circumstances. This chapter examines the psychological mechanisms by which people mentally transcend the immediate here-and-now, and explores the impact of these mechanisms on prediction, judgment, evaluation, and decision maki...
Chapter
Full-text available
People mentally traverse psychological distance whenever they contemplate the past or the future, other places, other people, or unlikely events. As a result, these four routes away from one’s immediate experience share important commonalities. After summarizing research on how and why people traverse distance, we next incorporate issues related to...
Chapter
Humans spend a large portion of their lives in pursuit of desired ends, from finding food and meeting deadlines to pursuing important career and relationship goals. The desired ends that people seek can vary in their proximity: For instance, food may be spatially close or distant; we might plan to meet a friend in the near or distant future. Thus,...
Article
Based on construal-level theory (CLT) and its view of power as an instance of social distance, we predicted that high, relative to low power would enhance women's mental-rotation performance and impede their emotion-recognition performance. The predicted effects of power emerged both when it was manipulated via a recall priming task (Study 1) and e...
Article
Background and objectives: We have previously reported that obsessive-compulsive individuals perform more poorly on tasks that require accurate perception of internal states. As these individuals are also characterized by elevated levels of doubt regarding internal states, the causal relationship between doubt and accurate perception remained uncl...
Article
We examined how level of construal and psychological distance affected performance in a task in which value of alternatives depended on frequency of choice. Melioration, a sub-optimal choice strategy that fails to take into account such value changes, has been found to be prevalent and difficult to change. Participants repeatedly chose between two...
Article
Pervasive doubts are a central feature of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We have theorized that obsessive doubts can arise in relation to any internal state and lead to compensatory reliance on more discernible substitutes (proxies), including rules and rituals. Previous findings corroborated this hypothesis, but were based on students with h...
Article
Full-text available
The parental caregiving motivational system leads people to behave selflessly. However, given that the purpose of this motivation is the protection of close kin, it might also lead to aggression toward distant, threatening others. In the present studies, we wished to investigate the effects of behaviorally activating the caregiving motivational sys...
Article
In the hope to resolve the two sets of opposing results concerning the effects of psychological distance and construal levels on moral judgment, Žeželj and Jokić (2014) conducted a series of four direct replications, which yielded divergent patterns of results. In our commentary, we first revisit the consistent findings that lower-level construals...
Article
Traversing psychological distance involves going beyond direct experience, and includes planning, perspective taking, and contemplating counterfactuals. Consistent with this view, temporal, spatial, and social distances as well as hypotheticality are associated, affect each other, and are inferred from one another. Moreover, traversing all distance...
Article
Full-text available
Conscious thought involves an interpretive inner monologue pertaining to our waking experiences. Previous studies focused on the mechanisms that allow us to remember externally presented stimuli, but the neurobiological basis of the ability to remember one's internal mentations remains unknown. In order to investigate this question, we presented pa...
Article
In this comment, we attempt to explain, within the framework of Construal Level Theory, and based on new data that we collected, the effect of abstract and concrete mind sets on moral judgment. We also share our initial thoughts about the (lack of consistent) effects of temporal distance on moral judgment and suggest directions for future research.
Article
People’s thoughts often go beyond what is right in front of them. In so doing, they mentally traverse psychological distance: They think about the past or the future, other places, other people, and wonder about the impossible. These four dimensions all tap into the same common construct of distancing from immediate experience. As a result, people...
Article
Most theories of goal pursuit underscore the beneficial consequences of monitoring progress towards goals. However, effects of affect labelling and dissociations between experience and meta-consciousness suggest that monitoring may not always facilitate goal pursuit. We predicted that in the case of pursuing interpersonal closeness, intense monitor...
Article
Full-text available
Much work in the field of social cognition shows that adopting an abstract (vs concrete) mindset alters the way people construe the world, thereby exerting substantial effects across innumerable aspects of human behavior. In order to investigate the cognitive and neural basis of these effects, we scanned participants as they performed two widely us...
Article
Full-text available
The association between morality and physical cleansing has been demonstrated in a series of studies by Zhong and Liljenquist. We predicted that this association would be especially prominent in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Participants with OCD and matched control participants wrote about an immoral deed they had committed, aft...
Chapter
This chapter presents a perspective on the mental representation of persons, groups, and the self that parsimoniously unifies existing distinctions, such as abstract versus concrete, schematic versus aschematic, and prototype versus exemplar, within the umbrella of high- versus low-level construal. This perspective is derived from construal level t...
Article
The ability to comprehend and represent the temporal properties of an occurrence is a crucial aspect of human language and cognition. Despite advances in neurolinguistic research into semantic processing, surprisingly little is known regarding the mechanisms which support the comprehension of temporal semantics. We used fMRI to investigate neural a...
Article
What is the difference between far and further? Investigations into such psychological distancing-removal from an egocentric reference point-have suggested similarities between geographical space, time, probability, and social distance. We draw on these similarities to propose that experiencing any kind of distance will reduce sensitivity to any ot...
Article
The present study was motivated by the hypothesis that inputs from internal states in obsessive-compulsive (OC) individuals are attenuated, which could be one source of the pervasive doubting and checking in OCD. Participants who were high or low in OC tendencies were asked to produce specific levels of muscle tension with and without biofeedback,...
Article
The present article conceptualizes mental time travel as a special case of transcending psychological distance, which rests on the uniquely human ability to consider counterfactual and hypothetical worlds. We discuss the possible challenges that counterfactuality and futurity present before our cognitive system, which include severing the real from...
Article
The present study was designed to test whether OC tendencies are associated with indecisiveness and increased need for objective feedback in vague decision situations. This hypothesis was tested using a neutral color judgment task that places minimal demands on working memory. Sixty-one participants completed several measures of OC symptoms and ten...
Chapter
Understanding the nature of mental construal is a central goal of many fields in psychology. One dimension on which construals vary is veridicality—the extent of correspondence between construals and the objective attributes of the objects they represent. Understanding what makes construal more or less veridical has been central to the study of per...
Article
Construal level theory We started with how the value of outcomes changes over temporal distance and ended up with what we hope is a step toward a general theory of psychological distance. There are different psychologies for the different dimensions of psychological distance – temporal, spatial, social, and hypotheticality. Without denying the uniq...
Article
According to construal level theory, psychological distance promotes more abstract thought. Theories of creativity, in turn, suggest that abstract thought promotes creativity. Based on these lines of theorizing, we predicted that spatial distancing would enhance creative performance in elementary school children. To test this prediction, we primed...
Chapter
This chapter examines two hypotheses on the psychological effects of spatial distance, both of which derived from Construal Level Theory of psychological distance (Liberman & Trope, 2008; Liberman, Trope & Stephan, 2007; Trope & Liberman, 2010): that spatial distance affects and is affected by other psychological distances, and that it affects and...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We examined the impact of psychological distance on the tendency to reject or to select enriched alternatives. Shafir, Simonson, & Tversky (1993) have shown that “enriched” alternatives, which have many pros and cons, are more likely to be both chosen and rejected than “impoverished” alternatives, which have fewer attributes. Based on Construal Lev...
Article
We have previously hypothesized that obsessive-compulsive (OC) tendencies are associated with a general lack of subjective conviction regarding internal states, which leads to compensatory seeking of and reliance on more discernible substitutes (proxies) for these states (Lazarov, A., Dar, R., Oded, Y., & Liberman, N. (2010). Behaviour Research and...
Chapter
This chapter argues that abstraction has evolved in the service of prediction. Construallevel theory (CLT) is used to examine how people bridge the past and the future by means of abstraction, or, in other words, how people make predictions by using abstract mental construals. In the framework of CLT, prediction, or bridging over time, is akin to m...
Article
Psychological causes of social distance were examined from the perspective of Construal Level Theory (CLT; Liberman, Trope, & Stephan, 2007), which predicts that temporal distance from and abstract construal of a social target would create perception of social distance. Our studies demonstrate that expectations for temporally remote (versus proxima...
Article
This chapter explores the issue of evaluative consistency and context-dependence by considering when stability or flexibility in evaluative responding would be most useful for the social organism. We propose that cues about distance functionally shape evaluations to flexibly incorporate information from their current context when individuals are ac...
Article
Full-text available
Rebound of thoughts after thought suppression is widely documented. Much less is known about the effects of suppression on rebound of behavior. The current studies show that suppressing thoughts (Experiment 1 and 2) and suppressing behavior (Experiment 3) may cause rebound of behavior. In Experiment 1 suppressing thoughts of thirst rebounded in enh...
Article
Reports an error in "Construal-level theory of psychological distance" by Yaacov Trope and Nira Liberman (Psychological Review, 2010[Apr], Vol 117[2], 440-463). This article contained a misspelling in the last name of the second author in the below reference. The complete correct reference is below. The online version has been corrected. (The follo...
Article
Full-text available
People are capable of thinking about the future, the past, remote locations, another person's perspective, and counterfactual alternatives. Without denying the uniqueness of each process, it is proposed that they constitute different forms of traversing psychological distance. Psychological distance is egocentric: Its reference point is the self in...
Article
Full-text available
We examine how adding an Attractive but Unattainable Alternative (AUA) to a set of available but less attractive alternatives influences evaluations of near vs.\ distant future sets of alternatives. According to Construal Level Theory (Liberman \& Trope, 2008) including an AUA would decrease the attractiveness of near future sets, but may increase...
Chapter
People frequently make decisions and act in a manner contrary to their goals and values. These self-control failures are widely prevalent, troubling, and implicated in some of the most pressing social issues, ranging from obesity and addiction to environmentalism and poor financial planning. Given humans' remarkable intellectual and reasoning capac...