The guilty by association effect: antecedent beliefs and circumstances

Fortune, Jennifer L.
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University of Guelph

The guilty by association effect occurs when a person expects that his or her friend's social blunder will negatively affect her own social standing in the eyes of people who witnessed the faux pas. Participants were assigned either to undergo a manipulation to induce feelings of closeness to a confederate offender or to complete a non-closeness-generating conversation task. They were then presented in front of a video camera at which time the confederate made an embarrassing admission: that she had cheated on exams. When participants were presented side-by-side with the embarrassing person they anticipated lower ratings from the video's audience than if they were not seated beside the person. Furthermore, people with low self-esteem anticipated lower ratings for themselves than did people with high self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem also experienced more anger and embarrassment. There were no results for feelings of closeness.

guilty by association, social blunder, social standing, closeness