Motivational Similarity and Interpersonal Evaluations: The Role of Ambiguity, Self-Derogation, and Emotion


Requests for reprints may be addressed to Avi Assor, Department of Education, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel.


ABSTRACT The present study tests two hypotheses which are based on a motivational threat model of interpersonal evaluation: (a) Dominance- and dependency-oriented perceivers evaluate motivationally similar others less favorably only when evaluation pertains to an ambiguous attribute and perceivers score high on self-derogation; and (b) the relatively unfavorable evaluation of the similar target person is mediated by an arousal process. Males observed a working dyad in which one man was dominant and the other dependent, but both were ambiguous on sociability. Throughout the observation, subjects' emotion-related skin conductance responses were monitored. Subjects then evaluated the target person they expected to meet and recalled information. Results supported the first hypothesis, but were only partially consistent with the second hypothesis. In addition, dominance-oriented perceivers produced more assertiveness constructs than dependency-oriented perceivers in free recall. The findings suggest that the threat model should be revised to include the moderating factors of attribute ambiguity and attitude toward the self, and perhaps also an additional mediating process: generalization of attitude toward the self to motivationally similar others.