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The long and winding road to uncertainty: the link between spatial distance and feelings of uncertainty.

Glaser T, Lewandowski J, Düsing J - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: The second experiment revealed that a feeling of uncertainty leads to a perception of greater distance.By demonstrating that distance is closely tied to uncertainty, the present research extends previous research on both distance and uncertainty by incorporating previously unexplained findings within CLT.Implications of these findings such as the role of uncertainty within CLT are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Construal Level Theory (CLT) [1] defines psychological distance as any object, event, or person that cannot be experienced by the self in the here and now. The goal of the present research was to demonstrate that feelings of uncertainty are closely linked to the concept of psychological distance. Two experiments tested the assumption that spatial distance and uncertainty are bidirectionally related. In the first experiment, we show that perceived spatial distance leads to a feeling of uncertainty. The second experiment revealed that a feeling of uncertainty leads to a perception of greater distance. By demonstrating that distance is closely tied to uncertainty, the present research extends previous research on both distance and uncertainty by incorporating previously unexplained findings within CLT. Implications of these findings such as the role of uncertainty within CLT are discussed.

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The three signals used in Experiment 1.The uppermost picture is noise, the middle picture is the weak signal and the lowermost picture is the strong signal.
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pone.0119108.g001: The three signals used in Experiment 1.The uppermost picture is noise, the middle picture is the weak signal and the lowermost picture is the strong signal.

Mentions: We used 15 landscape pictures implying depth that had also been used in studies by Hansen and Wänke [35]. The stimuli that were used as signals were squares that were presented within a pixel array. The strength of the signals was varied by varying the amount of pixeling of the squares. In a pretest, it was determined which degree of pixeling of the square is very easy to detect (strong signal) and which degree of pixeling is quite difficult to detect (weak signal). In the pretest (N = 8), we presented 53 squares within a pixel array that were all pixeled to a different degree. The stimuli were presented on a white screen with no background picture. Each of the squares was presented once in the upper half of the screen and once in the lower part of the screen, resulting in 106 trials. Participants’ task was to decide via key press whether a signal (i.e., square) was present or not. Our criterion for the selection of the strong signal was that all pretest participants were able to detect the square within the pixels. This criterion was reached at 80% of pixeling. The criterion for the weak signal was that only half of the participants of the pretest detect the signal, whereas the other half does not detect the signal. This criterion was reached at 24% of pixeling. Thus, whether the weak signal is categorized as present or absent is on chance level, thereby ensuring that categorization of the weak signal is more difficult and ambiguous than categorization of the strong signal or the noise. The noise-only stimuli contained no square and participants could only see the pixel array (see Fig. 1). Additionally, we varied the position of the signal (i.e., upper vs. lower part of the screen) in order to rule out that participants generally need longer when a signal is presented in the upper vs. lower part of the screen. If this were the case, longer reaction times for stimuli that are presented on background pictures and are perceived to be distal from the observer could be due to the mere position of the stimulus on the screen, which would have nothing to do with a perception of higher distance. However, no differences in reaction times to the upper vs. lower position on the screen could be observed, thus ruling out that the confound of mere position on the screen and perceived distance can account for reaction time differences expected in Experiment 1.


The long and winding road to uncertainty: the link between spatial distance and feelings of uncertainty.

Glaser T, Lewandowski J, Düsing J - PLoS ONE (2015)

The three signals used in Experiment 1.The uppermost picture is noise, the middle picture is the weak signal and the lowermost picture is the strong signal.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4355588&req=5

pone.0119108.g001: The three signals used in Experiment 1.The uppermost picture is noise, the middle picture is the weak signal and the lowermost picture is the strong signal.
Mentions: We used 15 landscape pictures implying depth that had also been used in studies by Hansen and Wänke [35]. The stimuli that were used as signals were squares that were presented within a pixel array. The strength of the signals was varied by varying the amount of pixeling of the squares. In a pretest, it was determined which degree of pixeling of the square is very easy to detect (strong signal) and which degree of pixeling is quite difficult to detect (weak signal). In the pretest (N = 8), we presented 53 squares within a pixel array that were all pixeled to a different degree. The stimuli were presented on a white screen with no background picture. Each of the squares was presented once in the upper half of the screen and once in the lower part of the screen, resulting in 106 trials. Participants’ task was to decide via key press whether a signal (i.e., square) was present or not. Our criterion for the selection of the strong signal was that all pretest participants were able to detect the square within the pixels. This criterion was reached at 80% of pixeling. The criterion for the weak signal was that only half of the participants of the pretest detect the signal, whereas the other half does not detect the signal. This criterion was reached at 24% of pixeling. Thus, whether the weak signal is categorized as present or absent is on chance level, thereby ensuring that categorization of the weak signal is more difficult and ambiguous than categorization of the strong signal or the noise. The noise-only stimuli contained no square and participants could only see the pixel array (see Fig. 1). Additionally, we varied the position of the signal (i.e., upper vs. lower part of the screen) in order to rule out that participants generally need longer when a signal is presented in the upper vs. lower part of the screen. If this were the case, longer reaction times for stimuli that are presented on background pictures and are perceived to be distal from the observer could be due to the mere position of the stimulus on the screen, which would have nothing to do with a perception of higher distance. However, no differences in reaction times to the upper vs. lower position on the screen could be observed, thus ruling out that the confound of mere position on the screen and perceived distance can account for reaction time differences expected in Experiment 1.

Bottom Line: The second experiment revealed that a feeling of uncertainty leads to a perception of greater distance.By demonstrating that distance is closely tied to uncertainty, the present research extends previous research on both distance and uncertainty by incorporating previously unexplained findings within CLT.Implications of these findings such as the role of uncertainty within CLT are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Construal Level Theory (CLT) [1] defines psychological distance as any object, event, or person that cannot be experienced by the self in the here and now. The goal of the present research was to demonstrate that feelings of uncertainty are closely linked to the concept of psychological distance. Two experiments tested the assumption that spatial distance and uncertainty are bidirectionally related. In the first experiment, we show that perceived spatial distance leads to a feeling of uncertainty. The second experiment revealed that a feeling of uncertainty leads to a perception of greater distance. By demonstrating that distance is closely tied to uncertainty, the present research extends previous research on both distance and uncertainty by incorporating previously unexplained findings within CLT. Implications of these findings such as the role of uncertainty within CLT are discussed.

Show MeSH