Psychology

Damned with Feint Phrase

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Science  16 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6049, pp. 1553
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6049.1553-b

The exponential growth of Facebook users reveals how humans thirst for social information, constantly seeking opinions voiced by friends about others, whether they are mutual friends or public figures. Psychological research has distilled much of social perception into the orthogonal dimensions of warmth and competence; furthermore, a halo effect—whereby holistic positive or negative judgments of people influence how they are rated on individual factors—has been widely reported. Kervyn et al. now show that a different pattern can emerge. When faced with a decision to welcome or rebuff an applicant to a travel tour or a workforce, subjects rated “outgoing” candidates lower on competence and “hard-working” candidates lower on warmth than generically positive applicants. That is, omitting information about one dimension, regardless of its saliency for the type of social grouping under consideration, resulted in negative inferences, which in turn led to a higher likelihood of rejection.

J. Exp. Soc. Psychol. 47, 10.1016/j/jesp.2011.08.001 (2011).

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