Perception of an Ambivalent Other Under Conditions of Contrasting Pre-Stimulation



Objective. Pre-stimulus effects of extreme personal valence on the perception of an ambivalent person.Background. The purpose of modern information technologies is not only to inform, but also to form certain views and opinions. These technologies are used in the media space, as well as in other areas of social interaction. The effects of behavioral conditioning, or priming, play an important role in the perception construction. At the same time, the question of the factors leading to its direct (assimilative) and inverse (contrast) effects remains poorly understood. Thus, any forecast of behavioral reactions in vivo becomes too imprecise.Study design. During the experiment, participants watched video interviews with a target object (male or female), who answered the Short Dark Triad questions, demonstrating the ambivalence of dark features. In two experimental groups, the perception of the target object was preceded by the presentation of an extremely “bad” or extremely “good” personality. In the control group, the target object was presented without pre-stimulus exposure. After viewing, the participants completed the Target Attitude Scale. The data were processed using ANOVA. Additionally, the effects of gender on the attitude variable were monitored.Participants. The sample consisted of 608 students from 17 to 35 years old (M=20.17, SD=1.53), including 173 men (28%) and 435 women (72%).Measurements. Short Dark Triad by D. Jones and D. Paulhus, adapted by M.S. Egorova et al., The Scale of the General Attitude to the Perceived Object by S.A. Shchebetenko et al.Results. The general attitude towards an ambivalent object, measured by the Scale of the General Attitude to the Perceived Object, becomes significantly more positive after presentation of a negative pre-stimulus, compared to the control and a positive pre-stimulus conditions (p<0.001). In the male sample, there is no significant effect of a negative pre-stimulus on the perception of a woman with an ambivalent representation of dark features (p>0.10).Conclusions. Pre-stimulus of extreme intensity can determine the contrast effect not only in perception of abstract object, but also in perception of ambivalent person. It is shown that the preliminary presentation of an extremely negative person shifts the assessment of the ambivalent person upward. An extremely positive person pre-stimulus does not make the same effect. The effect of a negative pre-stimulus is significant in the perception of men by women, but does not extend to the perception of women by men.

General Information

Keywords: social perception, pre-stimulus effect, priming, behavioral conditioning, effects of assimilation and contrast, dark triad, personal valence

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The research was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and Perm Krai, project number 20-413-590001.

Acknowledgements. The author is grateful for assistance in data collection and processing to O.I. Polyanina and G.V. Kovaleva.

Received: 01.08.2021


For citation: Baleva M.V. Perception of an Ambivalent Other Under Conditions of Contrasting Pre-Stimulation. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2022. Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 26–38. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2022130303. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)



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Information About the Authors

Milena V. Baleva, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Department of General and Clinical Psychology, Department of Developmental Psychology, Perm State University, Perm, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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