Psychology

Mixed reviews boost competence perception

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Science  20 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6263, pp. 924-925
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6263.924-c

Writers of letters of reference often refrain from mentioning an applicant's negative traits, but this can backfire because describing a person only with positive adjectives relating to his competence can induce the prospective employer to draw negative inferences about his warmth: the so-called innuendo effect. Kervyn et al. extend this research to show that adding a mixed evaluation of a candidate's warmth or good nature boosts the perception of her competence in comparison to a uniformly positive characterization of her warmth: the compensation effect.

J. Exp. Soc. Psychol. 62, 17 (2016).

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