To talk negatively about other people behind their back is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Of course, people are concerned if others are talking negatively about them. But: There exits little knowledge about which negative content causes most concern and why yet. Do we feel especially concerned if our capacity or our assertiveness is called into doubt? Or do we feel more concerned if our morality or helpfulness is questioned? On the one hand, first empirical studies have proven that people feel most concerned if others talk negatively about their communal traits like their morality. On the other hand, other studies have shown that for self-esteem of people foremost agentic traits like assertiveness are important. So why are we concerned if others talk negatively about traits that are not relevant for our self-evaluation? This project tries to give answers to these seemingly contradictory findings in the research area of agency and communion.


Third-party funding of the Special Fund for Scientific Work (FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg)

Leading Researchers:

Nicole Hauke, Andrea Abele-Brehm

Student Degree Theses within the Project:

  • J. Feick: What troubles us more: If others consider us to be incompetent, unassertive, dishonest or unfriendly?
  • R. Sinn: Impact of cognitive load on the effects of a damaged reputation
  • B. Huttinger: Effects of agentic and communal content of negative gossip on the external negative consequences for a fictional target
  • J. Foreman: The influence of negative gossip on our judgment of others: How do communal and agentic traits affect our impression formation?
  • T. Schlosser: If people are talking behind your back: Effects of negative gossip on self-concept and reputation threat
  • V. Krolla: How does the difficulty of reputation restoration influence the reaction to negative gossip?