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Downplaying Positive Impressions: Compensation Between Warmth and Competence in Impression Management

Author(s): Holoien, Deborah Son; Fiske, Susan T.

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Abstract: The compensation effect demonstrates a negative relationship between the dimensions of warmth and competence in impression formation in comparative contexts. However, does compensation between warmth and competence extend to impression management? Two studies examined whether people actively downplay their warmth in order to appear competent and downplay their competence in order to appear warm. In Studies 1a and 1b, participants selected words pretested to be high or low in warmth and competence to include in an e-mail message to people they wanted to impress. As predicted, participants downplayed their competence when they wanted to appear warm (Study 1a) and downplayed their warmth when they wanted to appear competent (Study 1b). In Studies 2a and 2b, compensation also occurred when participants introduced themselves to another person, as evidenced by the questions they selected to answer about themselves, their selfreported goals, and their open-ended introductions. Compensation occurred uniquely between warmth and competence and not for other dimensions, such as healthiness (Study 2a) and political interest (Study 2b), which suggests that the compensation effect extends beyond a mere zero-sum exchange between dimensions.
Publication Date: Jan-2013
Electronic Publication Date: 11-Sep-2012
Citation: Holoien, Deborah Son, Fiske, Susan T. (2013). Downplaying positive impressions: Compensation between warmth and competence in impression management. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49 (1), 33 - 41. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.09.001
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.09.001
ISSN: 0022-1031
Pages: 33 - 41
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Version: Author's manuscript

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