Mutual Influence between Attitudes towards People and Attitudes towards Things that Symbolically Represent Them



Objective. Studying the intensity and characteristics of the transfer of attitudes towards people to and from things associated with them.
Background. Symbolic functions of things are discussed in philosophy, economics, cultural studies and semiotics. At the same time, the psychological specificity of things participation in social interaction remains poorly studied. It is assumed that attitudes towards people are transferred to the things they create, and that making symbolic actions to the things changes attitudes towards those they represent.
Study design. An online experiment was carried out based on a fictional situation: 10 guests of a sanatorium presented for the competition the flowers that they had grown. The influence of attitudes towards people on the attractiveness of their work products and the influence of destroying the work product on attitudes towards the person who created it were simulated.
Participants. 132 people (111 women, 21 men) aged 17–55 years (M = 31,3; SD = 9,7).
Measurements. Data was collected using the “Master-tests” platform of the online services system “HT-Line”. Authors’ stimulus material was used. Characters were scored on the basic scales of C. Osgood's semantic differential (“evaluation”, “strength” and “activity”).
Results. Test subjects tend to save flowers grown by good characters. Characters’ attractiveness changes depending on whether their flowers are liked by participants. The characters whose flowers have been eliminated are perceived more passive when reassessed.
Conclusions. Attitude towards a person affects saving things that symbolically represent him/her, and performing an action to these things changes attitude towards its creator.

General Information

Keywords: psychology of things, symbolisation, attitude towards a person, semiological system, postmodern psychology, semantic differential

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Received: 19.05.2022


For citation: Khokhlov N.A., Kurmeleva A.I. Mutual Influence between Attitudes towards People and Attitudes towards Things that Symbolically Represent Them. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2023. Vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 172–193. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2023140110. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Nikita A. Khokhlov, PhD in Psychology, Developer Psychologist, Scientific and Methodical Department, Centre for Testing and Development “Gumanitarnye Tekhnologii”, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Neuro- and Pathopsychology, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Anastasia I. Kurmeleva, Student, Department of Personality Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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