Justice Without Borders: The Influence of Psychological Distance and Construal Level on Moral Exclusion

The present research examines how psychological distance influences the weight given to individuating information about targets of justice judgments. Drawing on construal level theory, which links psychological distance to levels of construal, we hypothesize that increasing psychological distance from justice judgments reduces people’s sensitivity to specific features of targets, thereby minimizing the extent to which applications of justice are influenced by target-specific information. Psychological proximity, by contrast, enhances the salience of targets’ idiosyncratic characteristics, thereby leading to applications of justice that are more sensitive to targets’ identity. Six studies, examining various justice principles, support these conclusions. Studies 1 to 3 show that psychological distancing reduces the weight of target-specific features in justice judgments. Supporting the role of construal level in driving these results, Studies 4 to 6 demonstrate parallel patterns when construal level is manipulated directly. This work offers a novel outlook on the role of construal and target characteristics in moral exclusion.

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APA-Format Citation

Mentovich, A., Yudkin, D., Tyler, T., & Trope, Y. (2016). Justice without borders: The influence of psychological distance and construal level on moral exclusion. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(10), 1349-1363.