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The Innuendo Effect: Hearing the Positive but Inferring the Negative

Author(s): Kervyn, Nicolas; Bergsieker, Hilary B.; Fiske, Susan T.

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Abstract: Speakers can convey mixed impressions by providing only positive information. As a series of studies shows, when communicators omit information on a salient, relevant dimension of social perception, listeners make negative inferences about the target on that omitted dimension, despite directly receiving only positive information on another dimension (Studies 1 and 2a). These negative inferences mediated the effect of the innuendo manipulation on judgments about the target person's suitability for inclusion in one's group. Simulating communication, Study 2b participants read Study 2a's descriptions and showed this innuendo effect is stronger for descriptions of female as opposed to male targets in an academic domain. We discuss implications of innuendo for the communication and perpetuation of mixed impressions and their prevalence in descriptions of subordinate group members.
Publication Date: Jan-2012
Electronic Publication Date: 22-Aug-2011
Citation: Kervyn, Nicolas, Bergsieker, Hilary B, Fiske, Susan T. (2012). The innuendo effect: Hearing the positive but inferring the negative. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48 (1), 77 - 85. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.08.001
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.08.001
ISSN: 0022-1031
Pages: 77 - 85
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Version: Author's manuscript

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