Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Emese Vitalis, PhD

Second Advisor

Anna Maria Wegierek, PsyD


Psychological distancing refers to a shift from a psychologically immersed perspective that involves thinking about the details of an event (concretely) or stepping back from it and watching the event from an outside point of view (abstractly)––this can help individuals change how they feel about the experience. Investigating how construal levels affect emotional memories may provide more insight into how individuals may potentially alter the recall of their memories. The current study reflects a new examination of the effect of primed high and low construal levels on the recall of positive and negative arousing stimuli. This study included a pilot and experimental study. The pilot study was used to validate the emotional stimuli that were then used in the experimental procedure. For the experimental procedure, 132 participants were exposed to videos inducing affect (positive vs. negative). After 20 minutes working on an unrelated distractor task, participants were randomly assigned to primed mental construal conditions (abstract vs. concrete). Following priming, participants were asked to recall the information from the video clip they watched at the beginning of the experiment. Results did not indicate significance toward the hypotheses, although there was a pattern to indicate participants in the low/concrete construal condition recalled more details of the negative video clips than did participants in the high/abstract construal condition.