Evaluating the evaluator: The effects of the valence, sequence and target of evaluations on the perception of the evaluator
People commonly want to be perceived as intelligent, as well as be liked by others. Previous research has demonstrated that people who wish to appear intelligent tend to criticise others, and that criticising others indeed leads to the perception of high intelligence. In the current research we hypothesised and found that this is not the case when (a) the criticism is targeted towards the people who form the impression, and (b) the criticism is targeted towards those with whom the people who form the impression have just interacted. In both cases, participants in our study liked evaluators less when they used criticism than when they used praise. Moreover, they perceived the evaluators as less intelligent. We also demonstrated that in cases of mixing praise with criticism, the sequence of the evaluation interacted with the target of the evaluation in influencing liking. We found a greater liking for evaluators whose evaluation changed from negative to positive rather than vice versa, but only when the perceiver was the target of the evaluation. The discussion centres on the potential underlying mechanisms for these results, as well as on the practical applications of the results and directions for future research.