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Abstract

Agentic qualities are associated with self-interests of the trait possessor and communal qualities are associated with interests of other people (with whom the trait possessor interacts with). Based on this idea we hypothesized that information on behavior serving self-interests leads to inferences of agency while information on identical actions performed in the service of others' interests leads to inferences of communion. These hypotheses were supported in a study where participants perceived a politician who acted for or against his own interest and (orthogonally) acted for or against interests of other people. Additionally, actions serving other-interest influenced attitudes toward the politician to a higher degree than actions serving his self-interest. The other-interest influence on attitudes was mediated by inferences of communal qualities of the politician while the self-interest influence on attitudes was mediated by inferences of agentic qualities of the politician. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.