What Matters When Deciding Whether to Participate in Colorectal Cancer Screening? The Moderating Role of Time Perspective


Christian von Wagner, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK. E-mail: c.wagner@ucl.ac.uk


According to construal level theory (CLT), the more distant an event, the more likely it is to be represented in terms of abstract (e.g., desirability) versus concrete features (e.g., feasibility). This online study tested temporal distance effects in the context of colorectal cancer screening, which is desirable in terms of detecting cancer but relatively unpleasant. Consistent with CLT, participants in the distant future condition acquired more knowledge relating to the desirability of performing the test, attached greater weight to information emphasizing the long-term benefits, and exhibited stronger intentions to use the test. These findings suggest that the temporal distance between decision-making and behavioral execution plays an important role in the construal and application of central features of health actions.