Warmth Trumps Competence in Evaluations Of Both In-group and Out-group


Research from a number of social psychological traditions suggests that social perceivers should be more concerned with evaluating others’ intentions (i.e., warmth) relative to evaluating others’ ability to act on those intentions (i.e., competence). The present research examined whether warmth evaluations have cognitive primacy over competence evaluations in a direct reaction-time comparison and whether the effect is moderated by ingroup versus outgroup membership. Participants evaluated as quickly as possible whether warmth versus competence traits described photographs of racial ingroup versus outgroup members expressing neutral emotions. Responses supported the hypothesis that evaluations of warmth take precedence over evaluations of competence; participants were faster to evaluate others on warmth-related traits compared to competence-related traits. Moreover, this primacy effect was not moderated by racial group membership. The data from this research speak to the robustness of the primacy of warmth in social evaluation.

Tay Hack