A Below-Average Effect with Respect to American Political Stereotypes on Warmth and Competence

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Abstract

The “above-average effect” is the phenomenon that people tend to judge themselves above average on desirable traits. Based on social identity theory, we propose that a “below-average effect” may arise when individuals rate themselves and the average ingroup member on traits stereotypically associated with the ingroup. In two studies, Republican and Democrat participants rated themselves and the average political ingroup member on possession of desirable traits related to warmth and competence. Current political stereotypes in America associate the former dimension with Democrats and the latter with Republicans. Consistent with our hypothesis, the above-average effect was moderated by political group and dimension in interaction. In particular, Democrats rated themselves below the average Democrat on warmth and Republicans rated themselves below the average Republican on competence.

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