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When it's bad to be friendly and smart: the desirability of sociability and competence depends on morality

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
Volume42
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)1272-1290
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date12/07/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Morality, sociability, and competence are distinct dimensions in person perception. We argue that a person’s morality informs us about their likely intentions, whereas their competence and sociability inform us about the likelihood that they will fulfill those intentions. Accordingly, we hypothesized that whereas morality would be considered unconditionally positive, sociability and competence would be highly positive only in moral others, and would be less positive in immoral others. Using exploratory factor analyses, Studies 1a and 1b distinguished evaluations of morality and sociability. Studies 2 to 5 then showed that sociability and competence are evaluated positively contingent on morality—Study 2 demonstrated this phenomenon, while the remaining studies explained it (Study 3), generalized it (Studies 3-5), and ruled out an alternative explanation for it (Study 5). Study 6 showed that the positivity of morality traits is independent of other morality traits. These results support a functionalist account of these dimensions of person perception.