K.U.Leuven. Laboratory of Experimental Social Psychology
ESCON TCK Conference (European Social Cognition Network Transfer of Knowledge Conference) edition:7 location:Vitznau, Lucerne date:1-4 September 2005
Since Brown and Gilman's pioneering study (1960) students of social relations have stressed two relational categories: (1) communion (solidarity) relations (e.g., liking) marked by expected symmetry (if A likes B, then B is expected to like A), and (2) power relations (e.g., influencing) marked by expected asymmetry (if A influences B, then B is expected not to influence A). Analogously, since Rosenberg and collaborators' multidimensional study of implicit personality theory (1968), students of person perception have stressed two trait categories that may be characterized as (1) communion ( morality, social good-bad, other-profitability, etc.) and power (dominance, competence, intellectual good/bad, self-profitability, etc.). Two hypotheses are advanced about the informatory value of communion and status relations about communion and status traits. According to an obvious "content cue" hypothesis communion and power relations are informative about communion and power traits respectively. Alternatively, some data from the literature suggest a "structural cue" hypothesis It states that any relation is potentially informative about both solidarity and power. However, solidarity would be conveyed if the relation is symmetric, and power if it is asymmetric. In four experiments effects were obtained that supported both hypotheses, though the effects consistent with the structure cue hypothesis might be accounted for as well by a revised version of the content cue hypothesis. Approach-avoidance values associated with the communion values of traits conveyed by relations were found in agreement with universals underlying psychological proximity and distance associated with address forms according to Brown & Gilman.