A Comprehensive Multi-Nation Comparison of the Hunchback Heuristic of Anger and Calm Judgements with Three Mainstream Theories

Owuamalam, C. K. (University of Nottingham, Malaysia), Weerabangsa, M. M. (University of Nottingham, Malaysia), Okubo, M., (Senshu University, Japan), Matos, A. S. (University of Nottingham, Malaysia), ANGCALM Consortium, (University of Nottingham, Malaysia), Anjum, G. (Institute of Business Administration Karachi, Pakistan)

Expectations of anger/calm can have profound consequences for social harmony due to the threat/agreeableness implied by these emotions. Yet, opinions are divided about who might be more or less expressive of these emotions. Some argue that perceivers ordinarily associate greater anger (and less calm) with members of low-status groups because they encounter frustrating life circumstances more than people from privileged higher-status backgrounds – the hunchback heuristic. Others assume that low-status people are nice and agreeable (i.e., warm) and, that nice and agreeable people are generally calm, not angry, based on a ‘warmth-precedence thesis’ that we deduced from the stereotype content model. A third school of thought—the cultural moderation thesis—predicts patterns that are somewhere in-between: that the hunchback heuristic should be visible in independent cultures, but that the reverse of this trend should occur in ‘interdependent’ cultures due to norms that permit only people in elevated positions to display the harmony-undermining emotion of anger. A final infra-humanisation perspective holds that social status shouldn’t play a role in the attribution of these largely non-uniquely human emotions. We tested these propositions in a series of (pre-registered multi-lab/-nation) experiments that yielded more consistent support for the hunchback heuristic relative to the other mainstream theses.

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Close Relationships and Emotion