Is "Anger More Abstract than Fear? A Construal Level Lens"
Construal Level Theory distinguishes emotions with respect to the level of construal level involved in their elicitation and experience. High-level emotions are abstract as they involve schematic and decontextualized information related to an event. Low-level emotions are concrete as they involve context-specific mental representations of an event. High-level emotions are commonly conceptualized as those that encompass self-conscious and moral emotions like pride and shame, whereas low-level emotions are believed to encompass basic emotions like fear and anger. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that anger may be a more abstract emotion than what is assumed, at least compared to other basic emotions such as fear. Anger is a highly social emotion, characterized by the consideration of abstract universal and social rules and principles. To date, no study has investigated how anger differs from other basic emotions with respect to construal level. In three studies, participants wrote about a past or current event that made them feel most fearful or angry. Text analysis revealed that participants who wrote about an anger-eliciting event used significantly more abstract language.