Just another variant of psychological distance? The role of visual perspective in mental simulation.

Brittany M. Tausen*, Savannah Carpenter, C. Neil Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Mentally simulating a reality beyond one’s present experience is highly consequential. As such, the construction and contents of mental simulations serve as a focal point for research in a variety of domains. According to construal level theory, the psychological distance that characterizes a simulation is associated with predictable shifts in abstraction—a key determinate of the downstream consequences of mental simulation. Although a great deal of work has been dedicated to investigating how the psychological distance (i.e., social, spatial, temporal and hypotheticality) of mental simulations influences event construal, a separate body of evidence has explored the characteristics and consequences of mental simulations that vary in visuospatial perspective—a fundamental property of mental imagery. The current article probes how visual perspective fits into the framework of construal level theory and, in particular, the extent to which visual perspective can be considered a form of social distance. We conclude that visual perspective is empirically and theoretically distinct from social distance, but can impact construal in a manner similar to psychological distance. Thus, the burgeoning literature on visual perspective may provide a roadmap for how other forms of distance could impact the emotions, judgments, and behaviors that accompany or follow mental simulations. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-362
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory Research, and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date12 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • construal
  • construal level theory
  • mental simulation
  • social distance
  • visual perspective


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