Daniel Leising, Olga Ostrovski, Peter Borkenau
Journal of Research in Personality (2012)
There is evidence that humans tend to differentiate more between negative stimuli than between positive stimuli. Our study investigated whether this applies to person descriptions. Participants (N = 168) generated their own terms for describing themselves and four others. Altogether, they generated 3319 terms, 758 of which were different from each other. The proportion of different terms was smaller in descriptions of liked targets (about 33%) than in descriptions of disliked targets (about 50%). Of the 758 different terms, about 60% had a negative valence, even though the perceivers were relatively fond of three of the five targets. We differentiate more between people we do not like, than between people we do like (including ourselves).