The editors note with regret the death of Professor Willem Claeys on March 18, 1992. This paper was originally submitted to the Special Issue ‘Positive-negative asymmetry in affect and evaluations’.
Some instantiations of the informational negativity effect: Positive-negative asymmetry in category breadth and in estimated meaning similarity of trait adjectives†
Version of Record online: 22 FEB 2006
Copyright © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 111–129, March/April 1993
How to Cite
Claeys, W. and Timmers, L. (1993), Some instantiations of the informational negativity effect: Positive-negative asymmetry in category breadth and in estimated meaning similarity of trait adjectives. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 23: 111–129. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2420230202
- Issue online: 22 FEB 2006
- Version of Record online: 22 FEB 2006
- Manuscript Accepted: 15 JAN 1992
- Manuscript Received: 15 NOV 1990
Starting from the assumption that people direct more attention to the objective, non-evaluative, aspects of undesirable behaviours than of equally evaluatively-intense desirable ones and attach more weight to the defining descriptive features of undesirable traits than of desirable ones, we predicted and demonstrated, with samples of Dutch adjectives, that, on the average, undesirable trait adjectives, as compared to desirable ones, had a lower category breadth and a higher discriminative value (Study 1). Undesirable trait adjectives were also estimated as less similar in meaning and as less likely to co-occur in the same person, and were less strongly intercorrelated when used for memory-based self-ratings (Study 2). These positive-negative asymmetries tended to hold for all traits whether they belonged to the self-profitability dimension or to the other-profitability dimension, and did not depend on the evaluative intensity of the traits. Alternative interpretations of these asymmetries and the implications of these asymmetries for personality assessment and for research on implicit personality theory and on the factorial structure of rating correlations are discussed.