General Meeting of the European Association for Experimental Social Psychology edition:13 location:San Sebastian date:26-29 June 2002
Trait transference or the phenomenon that people ascribe traits to communicators after observing these communicators describing other people’s trait-implying behaviours has been presented as an associative phenomenon. However, an artefact explanation may be derived from Schwarz’s (1994) logic of conversation analysis of social cognition research. Participants do not get any rationale as to why they get the communicators’ descriptions of other people. Trait transference experiments thus violate the rule of relevance saying that no irrelevant information should be provided. Hence, participants may believe that they should use this information. Therefore, participants saw photographs of ‘communicators’ together with their alleged trait-implying descriptions of ‘actors’. They rated both actors and communicators on relevant traits. Half of them judged the actors first thus respecting the rule of relevance, whereas the other half rated the communicators first thus violating it. Results are presented along with their theoretical and methodological implications.