Freitas, A. L., Gollwitzer, P. M., & Trope, Y. (2004). The influence of abstract and concrete mindsets on anticipating and guiding others' self-regulatory efforts. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 739-752.
To investigate how people anticipate and attempt to shape others’ self-regulatory efforts, this work examined the impact of abstract and concrete mindsets on attention to goal-relevant aspects of others’ situations. An abstract (relative to a concrete) mindset, by making accessible the cognitive operation of considering activities’ purpose (versus process) was predicted to focus attention on how others’ self-evaluative situations could impact others’ long-term aims of self-knowledge and self-improvement, thus facilitating the anticipation and preference that others pursue accurate, even self-critical, feedback. Participants in an abstract (relative to a concrete) mindset both anticipated (Experiment 1) and suggested (Experiments 2a and b) that others pursue realistic rather than overly positive self-relevant information, with the latter effect apparently explained by the salience of abstract versus concrete goal-relevant features of others’ situations (Experiment 2b). Implications for self-regulatory mindsets, as well as for interpersonal relations, are discussed.