Beliefs about abstraction: How abstract thinking signals motivation and influences employability
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Construal level theory (Liberman & Trope, 2008) identifies abstraction as the key process that allows forming representations of distal objects such as goals, ambitions, and plans (Fujita, Trope, & Liberman, 2015). Abstract thinking expands our mental horizons and allows “taking a step back”, while concrete thinking helps us to immerse in the immediate environment and focus on its local features. Across five experiments, we test whether people perceive abstraction as signaling a drive to progress and project one’s competences in the future—a trait we expect to be desirable in most education and job settings. In particular, we hypothesize that abstraction should signal long-term vision, motivation and willingness to seize opportunities for growth and professional development. Results across one field study and four online experiments confirm that people do recognize abstract thinking as signaling motivation to improve, and associate it with action flexibility and room for improvement. Study 5 further demonstrate that abstract thinking can selectively boost a candidate’s employability when the hiring company is described as placing a strong emphasis on growth opportunities. Overall, this research suggests that abstract thinking can be used as a self- presentation tool that signals motivation and goal-orientation." Show more
Journal / seriesAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management
Organisational unit09562 - Schmid, Petra Claudia / Schmid, Petra Claudia
NotesConference lecture held on August 10, 2020. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the conference was conducted virtually.
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