Likability of strangers as a function of their winner/loser status, gender, and race

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A sample of adult American white women and men (N = 384), approached randomly in shopping malls, read and responded to newspaper stories that differed in the winner/loser status (situation), gender, and race of the person who was the focus of the story. After reading a news story, each participant responded to three dependent measures—an Adjective Checklist, a Liking Rating Scale, and Social Closeness Scales—from which were derived six scores that reflected liking for the person described in the story. The results indicated unambiguously that persons in winning, positive situations were viewed as significantly more attractive, and were more likely to be approached than persons in losing, negative situations, regardless of their gender or race. These findings were obtained on all six measures of liking for both female and male respondents. The results were discussed in terms of relationships assumed to hold between social status and such permanent attributes as gender and race, and in terms of the “just world” hypothesis. American studies that show that gender and race of persons are sometimes less influential cues than social class, occupation, or winner/loser status have thus far been limited to reactions to symbolic target persons; there should be greater indications of conflict in the behavior of white persons in actual interaction with blacks of varied status, and in the behavior of men in actual interaction with women of varied status. © 1986 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Social Psychology