In line with Asch’s theorizing, changing warm to cold had a more pronounced influence on perceiver’s impressions than changing polite to blunt. Social Psychologist Solomon Asch was a pioneer in Gestalt Psychology. Not warmth, but intelligence, was primary in shaping participants’ impressions. It could be argued that Asch’s studies (1946) were not optimally designed to capture a primacy-of-warmth effect. After removing capitals and punctuation, we used a sentiment dictionary (Wilson, Wiebe, & Hoffmann, 2005) to establish the average valence of all descriptions. relations between judgments of competence and warmth, The Most contemporary impression formation work seeks to emphasize cognitive process and representations. The discrepancy leads one to wonder what about assigning participants to a category versus allowing them to describe the perceived individuals as “warm” or “cold” leads them to change their evaluation of a perceived person. Averaged Impressions - Is our impression of an individual based on the sum of the values of known traits (Additive) or is it based on an average (sum of value of the traits divided by the number of known traits). All other traits were mentioned less frequently than both intelligence and coldness (the difference between cold and determined was only marginally significant; means between 0.01 and 0.15, all Fs > 3.18, all ps < .08, all η p 2’s = .04–.05). Both measures suggest that warmth is not the primary determinant of perceivers’ impressions, and that intelligence (a competence-related trait) seems at least equally important. approach to teaching social psychology topics in an undergraduate college course. Impression formation is defined as a procedure whereby specific pieces of information about someone else are combined to… A I repeated this measure for each dependent variable and condition in all three experiments. Thus, no trait is central by design, and even traits of special importance (such as warm and cold) may become peripheral in some contexts, as the meaning and weight of any trait is context-dependent. In sum, Asch’s data (1946) do not provide clear evidence for a primacy-of-warmth effect. Contribution statement: Designed research: S. N., I. H., D. W. Performed Pratto, F., & John, O. P. (1991). In Condition 2, the average warmth-index was not significantly different from zero, t(103) = −0.68, p = .50, M = −0.08, suggesting that the traits participants used were overall equally related to competence and warmth. More specifically, cold was selected as most important trait by 30.0% of participants and as least important trait by 29.2% of participants: Participants seemed to have a polarized view on the importance of coldness, ranking it as important and as unimportant relatively frequently. The “restrained” data further support Asch’s conclusions, as Experiment III failed to replicate prior findings (χ2(1, N=46) =0.63, ns). Impression formation is the process by which we form an overall impression of someone’s character and abilities based on available information about their traits and behaviors. increase statistical power, Positive-negative asymmetry in evaluations: The distinction Positive warmth-indices appear for traits that are more strongly related to warmth than to competence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2(4), pp.531-539. Third, we randomly assigned participants to one of seven conditions to aid comparability of the studies (Asch ran the conditions in three separate studies). in connotative meaning, Effects of varying trait inconsistency and response requirements Impression formation is … comments on earlier drafts of this article. © 2014 Hogrefe Publishing. These have identified phenomena such as primacy effects and halo effects. Next, participants were asked to type in their impression of the target person (open-ended measure). It has frequently been said that “first impressions matter.” Social psychological research supports this idea. Checklist (Trait-Pair Choice Measure) as Used in, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, The bigger one of the “Big Two”? 6 Some participants did not use any trait words in their description of the target person that are part of the Anderson (1968) trait-list. contribution of linguistic factors to attribute inferences and semantic 1 In the present research, in line with the recommendations by Fiske et al. bias? Finally, participants completed some demographic questions and were debriefed. We believe that Asch’s Gestalt theory, if anything, addresses the limitations and boundary conditions of primacy-of-warmth, and we wonder if his data provide any evidence for the effect itself. formation, Further evidence for meaning change in impression As apparent from Table A3 in the Additional Findings, the function, meaning, and weight of warmth (if it was mentioned) differed strongly across conditions: For example, in some conditions, warmth was interpreted as meaning the person was truly nice and kind-hearted; in others, it was interpreted as a way for cold-hearted people to manipulate others. With over 2,750 references, Asch’s work has been “the stuff of textbooks” (Fiske et al., 2007, p. 78), forming part of the foundation on which this later research has been built. Replication attempts of Asch’s work abound (e.g., Ahlering & Parker, 1989; Anderson & Barrios, 1961; Babad, Kaplowitz, & Darley, 1999; Grace & Greenshields, 1960; Hendrick & Constantini, 1970; Kelley, 1950; Luchins, 1948; Luchins & Luchins, 1986; McCarthy & Skowronski, 2011; McKelvie, 1990; Mensh & Wishner, 1947; Pettijohn, Pettijohn, & McDermott, 2009; Semin, 1989; Singh, Onglacto, Sriram, & Tay, 1997; Veness & Brierley, 1963; Wishner, 1960), but most are conceptual rather than direct replications, many are incomplete, few relate to primacy-of-warmth, and some results do not concur with Asch’s original findings. Ever since Asch (1946) established many of the foundational principles of impression formation one being that impression formation is an organized process – Asch goes on to identify 3 others. Asch concluded that individuals form dynamic impressions of others, based on more valenced or important character traits first with supporting or peripheral traits given lesser weight. Finally, to check whether our textual analysis may have missed subtle references to warmth, we asked an independent coder to rate for 350 (out of 1,023) randomly selected descriptions to what extent warmth or coldness was conveyed (more information is available in the Additional Findings). impression formation Source: A Dictionary of Sociology Author(s): John Scott, Gordon Marshall. Asch (1946) based his conclusions to a large extent on these open-ended responses, providing many anecdotes, but never systematically analyzing the data. experiments, Trait inferences, impression formation, and person memory: Because Asch ran his experiments almost 70 years ago, he reported his results as the percentages of people who endorsed a given trait in their sketch. Based on these experiments, Asch (1946) concluded that perceivers form coherent, unitary impressions of others. In sum, the open-ended descriptions do not provide evidence for a primacy-of-warmth effect. Their significance is driven by differential rates of endorsement, with individuals in the “cold” condition identifying the stimulus as “restrained” much less often than “warm” group subjects. The rapid creation of a unified perception or understanding of the character or personality of another person on the basis of a large number of diverse characteristics. Implications impressions, Causal perceptions of intertrait relations: The glue that holds being observed. In light of these recent findings, it may seem unimportant that Asch’s data do not provide evidence for primacy-of-warmth, because, after all, the effect seems present in more modern studies. Traits interact dynamically in shaping each other’s interpretation: Which traits become central or peripheral is fully determined by the trait context. In Condition 2, perceivers saw the same trait-list as in Condition 1, except for warm (which was replaced by cold). Impression formation is a common element of human behaviour. Asch, 1946). For the super nerds out there like me, I have included my tables of results below. Only 19.5% of participants ranked warm as the most important trait in determining their impression, whereas 55.3% ranked intelligent as the most important trait. formation, A “classic” revisited: Students’ immediate Unlike for warm, the distribution of rank frequencies for cold did differ from a flat distribution, X 2(2, N = 130) = 64.22, p < .001, Cohen’s w = 0.70. Wilcoxon signed rank tests confirmed that intelligent received lower average ranks (indicating higher importance) than warm, Z(2, N = 159) = −7.27, p < .001, r = 0.41, with mean ranks of 1.89 and 3.67, respectively. For example, his stimulus lists contained unequal amounts of warmth- and competence-related traits and the ranking measure presupposes that perceivers can reliably indicate which traits influenced their impressions (which may not be the case; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). The Additional Findings contain additional analyses that have no direct relevance to the primacy-of-warmth effect, but are related to Asch’s hypotheses (1946) about the process underlying the above mentioned change in valence (pitting a change-in-meaning-effect, e.g., Hamilton & Zanna, 1974; Zanna & Hamilton, 1977, against a simple Halo-effect). These typological models failed to gain a strong foothold in the field: Instead, dimensional models became increasingly popular. Experiment two and three were variations of experiment one, demonstrating that individuals naturally sort people into the “warm” or “cold” category in the absence of a specific descriptor and that “polite” and “blunt” could be substituted for warm and cold respectively. effect, Thinking about people: Contributions of a typological alternative Table A1 of the Additional Findings provides a summary of all 10 studies. I decided to embark on a (very nerdy) adventure exploring Asch’s data. In the original publication (Asch, 1946), 10 studies were reported (total N = 834)2 in which participants read different lists of traits. impression formation in social psychology courses. Social psychological laboratories have undergone considerable change since the publication of Asch’s “Forming Impressions of Personality” in 1946, leading to the inevitable demise of punch cards and slide carousels in favor of more advanced experimental equipment. He is credited with the seminal research on impression formation and conducted research on how individuals integrate information about … The subjects were all college students, most of whom were women. My Table 2. Impression formation is essentially a form of person perception. Asch’s work, in our view, deserves a position at the forefront of science not because of its peripheral message about warmth, but because of its central message about the way in which people form impressions of personality, which constitutes the Gestalt of Asch’s work. We will now discuss each of these measures in turn. Instead, the role of warmth was highly context-dependent, and competence was at least as important in shaping impressions as warmth. Ample research suggests that warmth is often primary over competence in people’s impressions of others (e.g., Fiske et al., 2007; Wojciszke, 2005), and Asch’s classic warm-cold study often is one of the first and foremost references for this effect. The present research suggests that Asch’s data do not provide evidence for a primacy-of-warmth effect; if anything, competence seems more primary in his studies. Asch’s (1946) theorizing and the results of his Study IV do not support the primacy-of-warmth effect; the reason why he has been widely cited as the progenitor of this effect is because of his first study (Study I, or the classic warm-cold study). All traits mentioned by participants were rated by a separate group of participants (N = 33) on how warm and competent a person with that specific trait is (on a 7-point scale). This limitation was acknowledged by Asch (1946), but seems to have been overlooked in many later references to his work. According to Asch (1946), warm and cold should be central in Conditions 1 and 2 when accompanied by traits like intelligent, skillful, industrious, determined, practical, and cautious (original Study I), but not in Conditions 3–5 when accompanied by traits like obedient, weak, shallow, unambitious, and vain (original Study IV). The two major theories of impression formation - Asch's theory of impression formation and the information integration theory are applied to explain the sharply contrasting scholarly views held about impression formation but one noteworthy concern is that they both offer accurate explanations of how both the externalities and internalities affect our impression before others. Subsequently, they were exposed to lists of trait pairs (see Appendix) and were asked to choose which trait from each pair was most in accordance with their target impression (trait-pair choice measure). Asch may not be the progenitor of primacy-of-warmth, but he did father the Gestalt-view on impression formation; A view that has lost its position at the forefront of science. Social Psychology (2014), 45, pp. Then, all traits were repeated once (cf. Many methodological advances have been made in the 68 years since the publication of Asch’s seminal paper, and there now seems to be converging evidence for the central role warmth plays in shaping impressions of personality (e.g., from face perception research, Todorov, Said, Engell, & Oosterhof, 2008; research on morality, Wojciszke, 2005; and research on the perception of persons and groups, Fiske et al., 2007). Because this effect does not fit with Asch’s Gestalt-view on impression formation and does not readily follow from the data presented in his original paper, the goal of the present study was to critically examine and replicate the studies of Asch’s paper that are most relevant to the primacy-of-warmth effect. The reader no doubt, while doing a basic course in psychology must have become familiar with the process of perception and some of the principles governing the same. dimensions, Forming impressions of personality: Two asymmetry, Understanding evaluation of faces on social These participants were excluded from this analysis. 5 Based on the literature by Cohen (1992) and power analysis with G*Power (Faul, Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2007), we had aimed to run 1,050 participants in total. In the open-ended measure, participants wrote down their general impression of the target. One way that the participants in the studies described above may have been able to form such accurate impressions of instructors on the basis of such little information was by viewing their nonverbal behavior. Thus, our interpretation of one's traits affect the way we perceive one's other traits too. To pick up on these indirect warmth inferences, we generated an index of how warmth related the traits mentioned in the descriptions were. Beyond the methodological realm, Asch’s studies have also laid much of the groundwork for influential theories about person perception (e.g., attribution theory; Jones & Davis, 1965; the continuum model of impression formation; Fiske, Neuberg, Beattie, & Milberg, 1987). Traits were presented one by one for 3 s each, with 2 s between traits. Differences in “restrained” ratings reach statistical significance, however, for both Experiments I (χ2(1, N=166) =7.211, p=.007) and II (χ2(1, N=56) =7.623, p=.008) despite the seemingly similar numbers of individuals endorsing the trait. warm-cold variable in impressions of persons, Compensation between warmth and competence: What are these conditions? analysis, Association for Computational Moreover, participants’ descriptions of the target person centered on competence at least as much as on warmth, and a substantial amount of participants did not refer to warmth in their descriptions at all. To test this effect, which was not quantified in Asch’s original paper, we used textual analysis for assessing the valence of participants’ descriptions of the target person in the open-ended responses. In the first experiment he describes, participants in one of two conditions heard read a list of character-qualities that were identical except for one word. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(5), 665–675. Primacy-of-warmth1 (e.g., Fiske et al., 2007; Wojciszke, 2005) entails that warmth has a primary role in impression formation, in the sense that warmth-related information has a stronger influence on impressions than competence-related information (Wojciszke, Bazinska, & Jaworski, 1998). Subtracting 82 from 90, I found 8 individuals did not endorse “generous” in the “Warm” condition. He was interested in how we judge others and their personality based off small bits of information. 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