Evaluative inference in social cognition: The roles of direct versus indirect evaluation and positive-negative asymmetry


  • Guido Peeters

    Corresponding author
    1. N.F.W.O. and K.U. Leuven, Belgium
    • K.U. Leuven, Laboratorium voor Experimentele Sociale Psychologie, Tiensestreat 102, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
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Various implications regarding evaluative inference in social cognition are derived from (a) a relativistic evaluative-meaning concept dealing with evaluation as an interaction between descriptive attributes associated with the perceived object on the one side and evaluative standards belonging to the perceiver on the other side, and (b) a concept of evaluative positive-negative asymmetry that completes and integrates more simple concepts regarding the halo effect, negativity effect, and positivity bias. In subsequent sections empirical support for those implications is provided from (a) a review of previous research on impression formation, and (b) two new experiments in which effects associated with positivity bias, negativity effect, halo effect and the supplements implied by the positive-negative asymmetry concept were isolated from each other using a multifactorial ANOVA design. The results showed strong halo effects and positivity biases. Room for negativity effects was left only under very specific conditions which, however, were consistent with the positive-negative asymmetry concept.