Across 4 experiments, the authors investigated the role of value instantiation in bridging the gap between abstract social values and behavior in specific situations. They predicted and found that participants engaged in more egalitarian behavior (point allocation using the minimal group paradigm) after contemplating a typical instantiation of the value of equality compared to an atypical instantiation or a control condition that simply made the value salient. This effect occurred when participants generated reasons for valuing equality in the instantiation (Experiment 1) and when participants merely read about hypothetical examples of the instantiation context (Experiments 2, 3, and 4). Results across experiments indicated that the effect of prior instantiations was not mediated by changes in the abstract value; instead, the process of applying the abstract value was crucial (Experiment 4). Together, the experiments show that the process of applying an abstract value to a specific situation can be influenced by seemingly unrelated prior episodes.
Maio, G. R., Hahn, U., Frost, J-M., & Cheung, W-Y. (2009). Applying the value of equality unequally: Effects of value instantiations that vary in typicality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(4), 598-614. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016683