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Koch, Thomas; Obermaier, Magdalena (2016): With Heart and (No) Mind? How Recipients Negatively Infer Missing Information About Politicians and How This Affects the Assessment of the Speaker. In: Communication Research, Vol. 43, No. 7: pp. 972-995


Two fundamental dimensions underlie person perception: warmth and competence. We conducted three experiments to investigate how a positive or negative emphasis of only one of these dimensions (i.e., of only warmth or only competence) affects the perception of the other (complementary) dimension, and how voting intentions are influenced by these emphases. The results show that when a politician is described positively in only one of the two dimensions, people assess the complementary dimension more negatively. In addition, the negative emphasis of only one of the two dimensions also leads to a more negative assessment of the complementary dimension. Furthermore, we explore how these one-dimensional person descriptions affect the assessment of the speakers uttering them. Politicians who describe their opponents in negative terms are also evaluated negatively. On the contrary, politicians who judge others in positive terms are not necessarily evaluated positively.