The Bigger one of the “Big Two”? Preferential Processing of Communal Information.

Abele AE, Bruckmüller S (2011)

Publication Language: English

Publication Status: Accepted

Publication Type: Journal article, Original article

Publication year: 2011


Original Authors: Abele-Brehm Andrea E., Bruckmüller Susanne

Publisher: Elsevier

Book Volume: 47

Pages Range: 935-948

Journal Issue: 5

DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.028


An important aim of person perception is to guide people in their actions towards others and an especially important question in this regard is whether to approach a target or not. A target's traits can be differentiated into the "Big Two" fundamental content dimensions of agency and communion. Four studies test the hypothesis that relative to agentic traits communal traits—which can also be conceptualized as "other-profitable" traits—are processed preferentially because they convey more information relevant for approach vs. avoidance decisions. Across four studies, we found consistent support for this preferential processing hypothesis. Communal trait words were recognized faster (Study 1) and categorized faster with regard to valence than agentic trait words (Study 2); communal traits were inferred faster from behavior descriptions than agentic traits (Study 3); and finally, communal traits were mentioned prior to agentic ones in spontaneous descriptions of another person (Study 4). Throughout these studies the stimuli's valence (positive or negative words or behaviors) did not moderate this processing speed advantage of communal information. Participants' responses in Study 4, however, were more valence-driven for the communion dimension than for the agency dimension. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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Abele, A.E., & Bruckmüller, S. (2011). The Bigger one of the “Big Two”? Preferential Processing of Communal Information. Journal of experimental social psychology, 47(5), 935-948.


Abele, Andrea E., and Susanne Bruckmüller. "The Bigger one of the “Big Two”? Preferential Processing of Communal Information." Journal of experimental social psychology 47.5 (2011): 935-948.

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