Seeing the Big Picture: The Effect of Height on the Level of Construal

Drawing on research on grounded cognition and metaphorical representation, the authors propose and confirm in five studies that physical height, or even the mere concept of height, can affect the perceptual and conceptual levels of mental construal. As such, consumers who perceive themselves to be physically “high” or elevated are more likely to adopt a global perceptual processing and higher level of conceptual construal, whereas those who perceive themselves to be physically “low” are more likely to adopt a local perceptual processing and lower level of conceptual construal. This difference in construal level also affects product choices that involve trade-offs between long-term benefits and short-term effort. The authors address alternative accounts such as vertical distance, visual distance, and perceived power. By highlighting the novel relationship between height and construal level, these findings contribute to research on grounded cognition and construal-level theory while also providing practical suggestions to marketing managers across a variety of domains.

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APA-Format Citation

Aggarwal, P., & Zhao, M. (2015). Seeing the big picture: The effect of height on the level of construal. Journal of Marketing Research52(1), 120-133.