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Abstract

In the present study it was investigated how information about the profession affects the judgment of a person characterized by traits. Two main effects in judgments of likeability were found. More responsible professions produce a lower overall mean of judgments (contrast effect) and more polarized judgments than less responsible professions do. Additionally, an interaction of these effects with the scale value of the traits could be found. For higher scale values a striking difference between the polarization scores for more and less responsible professions was obtained, whereas for lower scale values this difference was small. To obtain more insight into the process underlying the influence of profession response probabilities were analysed using psychometric functions. Two mechanisms seem to mediate this influence: Firstly, the acceptability of the person to be judged is integrated as a peripheral dimension together with the likeability as a focal dimension into a decision continuum. Secondly, a neutral point of the function representing the relation between acceptability and likeability is integrated into an internal standard the value of the decision continuum is to be compared with. The analogy of findings in attitude research is discussed.