Seeing others through rose-colored glasses: An affiliation goal and positivity bias in implicit trait impressions

SoYon Rim, Kate E. Min, James S. Uleman, Tanya L. Chartrand, Donal E. Carlston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

People infer traits from other people's behaviors without intention, awareness, or effort, and this spontaneous trait inference (STI) effect has been shown to be robust. The purpose of the present research was to demonstrate the flexibility of STIs despite the ubiquity. Specifically, we examined the effect of an affiliation goal on STI formation and found a positivity bias. In Experiment 1, perceivers with an affiliation goal formed more positive (versus negative) spontaneous trait inferences compared to those without this goal and those who had been primed with semantically positive, affiliation-unrelated words. Experiment 2 provided evidence that this effect was driven by a motivational state by showing that the positivity bias occurs only when a perceiver's goal to affiliate remains unfulfilled. The goal's interaction with trait valence showed focused, goal-relevant bias. These studies are the first to show that STIs form flexibly in response to perceivers' primed social goals supporting the functionality account of STIs in implicit impression formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1204-1209
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

Keywords

  • Affiliation motivation
  • Attribution
  • Impression formation
  • Social cognition
  • Social perception
  • Spontaneous trait inference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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