Negative salience in impressions of character: Effects of unequal proportions of positive and negative information

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Subjects were presented with varying amounts of favorable and unfavorable information describing behaviors of an unknown person and were asked to rate his character after each type of information and again a week later. Where the amount of positive information was greater than the negative, results indicated that a single negative behavior neutralized five positive behaviors, yielding an impression only insignificantly better than that based on five negative and five positive actions. Final ratings were compared with values predicted by a simple averaging theory. Empirical ratings were significantly lower than theoretical values except for two cases where an averaging theory would also predict negative impressions. © 1975 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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