Person-Positivity Heuristic


The person-positivity heuristic is a tendency to evaluate individual people more positively than the groups to which they belong. Psychologist David Sears coined the phrase in 1983 because he noticed that results of political polls typically show that although respondents hold political institutions such as the U.S. Congress in low regard, they often have positive impressions of the individuals (senators and representatives) who make up those institutions. The personpositivity heuristic also occurs in evaluations of other types of political figures (governors, mayors), in college students' evaluations of their professors, and even in people's evaluations of small groups of physically attractive and unattractive women.


One explanation of the person-positivity heuristic is that people are predisposed to perceive themselves as similar to other people, and consequently, the ...

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