Friday, January 29, 2010

Do You Like Me

Warm And Competent

We’ve all heard that people favor their own kind and discriminate against out-groups—but that’s a simplistic view of prejudice, says Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies how we judge others. In recent years she and psychologists Susan Fiske of Princeton University and Peter Glick of Lawrence University have developed a powerful new model. All over the world, it turns out, people judge others on two main qualities: warmth (whether they are friendly and well intentioned) and competence (whether they have the ability to deliver on those intentions). A growing number of psychological researchers are turning their focus to this rubric, refining it and looking for ways in which we can put this new understanding of first impressions to use.

When we meet a person, we immediately and often unconsciously assess him or her for both warmth and competence. Whereas we obviously admire and help people who are both warm and competent and feel and act contemptuously toward the cold and incompetent, we respond ambivalently toward the other blends. People who are judged as competent but cold—including those in stereotyped groups such as Jews, Asians and the wealthy—provoke envy and a desire to harm, as violence against these groups has often shown. And people usually seen as warm but incompetent, such as mothers and the elderly, elicit pity and benign neglect.

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