Psychological distance affects the extent to which we think about an event, person, or idea as high or low level, and this will influence how concrete or abstract those thoughts are.
I came across this term in university a long time ago and it has stuck with me since then. I have used it to look at my own view on challenges and really try to understand how psychologically distant they really are – compared to reality. Internationalising a business is a great lens to look at psychological distance.
It took me 12 hours to fly to Singapore with Finnair from Helsinki. That’s a very short period of time in the grander scheme of things and still, it brings you half way round the world. Yet the stereotype with avoiding internationalising a business is usually affiliated with the statement that markets are far away.
This delta, between the 12-hour flight (for example) and something being far away, is all in your head. Improved travel opportunities have brought everything so much closer and further with the Internet, much of business activities can be conducted online.
Be aware of psychological distance the next time you assess risk and reward – opportunities are in many ways really close by and achievable in today’s world, even on a global scale.