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Behavior Settings and Impressions Formed from Social Scenarios

Lynn Smith-Lovin
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Mar., 1979), pp. 31-43
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033871
Page Count: 13
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Behavior Settings and Impressions Formed from Social Scenarios
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Abstract

A large body of literature supports the general hypothesis that social definitions of environments influence where people choose to interact, the behaviors in which they are most likely to engage, and the actions considered appropriate by others. This study explores the process by which people integrate complex information about settings and social interaction. First, the universal dimensions of affective meaning (evaluation, potency, and activity) are examined as sociologically relevant features of behavioral settings. Then equations are developed for assessing how the affective meanings of social role identities, interpersonal behaviors, and behavior settings combine to produce impressions of a social actor's goodness, powerfulness, and liveliness after an event has been discerned. Actors are evaluated more highly in familiar, positively-evaluated settings. Actors who occupy fast-paced, lively settings are viewed as more active. Finally, actors are evaluated more negatively if they engage in behaviors which are not in keeping with the pace or tempo of the social environment around them.

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