Construal Levels

Construal Levels

Managing Self-Control
When To Use?
When we feel stuck or lacking progress or direction
The mindset we bring to perceiving and interpreting the world is our construal level.


This thinking toy describes the level of abstraction you are viewing the world through when you stop at a particular "why" question.

A Ladder of Abstraction

Low Construal: concrete thinking.
High Construal: corresponds with more abstract thinking.
  • Reduces our susceptibility to impulse
  • Going up gives us more top-down control — rational regulation
  • Far-mode enables greater risk taking and makes big challenges feel more surmountable.
  • Reduces our engagement with the present moment.
  • Obscures details that may be important to know in advance.

Moving Up and Down The Ladder

  • Asking “Why?” recursively, or seeking abstraction and pattern, raises our construal level.
  • Asking “How?” recursively, or seeking detail and difference, lowers our construal level.
Being aware of our ability to manipulate construal level is huge. Learning to play with going up and down in construal helps us engage with the world more skillfully.
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