Professed impressions: What people say about others affects onlookers' perceptions of speakers' power and warmth

Ames, Daniel R., Emily C. Bianchi, Joe C. Magee.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 152-158

During a conversation, it is common for a speaker to describe a third-party that the listener does not know. These professed impressions not only shape the listener's view of the third-party but also affect judgments of the speaker herself. We propose a previously unstudied consequence of professed impressions: judgments of the speaker's power. In two studies, we find that listeners ascribe more power to speakers who profess impressions focusing on a third-party's conscientiousness, compared to those focusing on agreeableness. We also replicate previous research showing that speakers saying positive things about third parties are seen as more agreeable than speakers saying negative things. In the second study, we demonstrate that conscientiousness-power effects are mediated by inferences about speakers' task concerns and positivity-agreeableness effects are mediated by inferences about speakers' other-enhancing concerns. Finally, we show that judgments of speaker status parallel judgments of agreeableness rather than of power, suggesting that perceivers use different processes to make inferences about status and power. These findings have implications for the literatures on person perception, power, and status.

Wagner Faculty