Do agency and communion explain the relationship between perceiver and target effects in interpersonal perception? A meta-analysis on generalized reciprocity


This meta-analysis examines generalized reciprocity, that is, the relationship between how people perceive others and how they are perceived by others. It tests the hypothesis that generalized reciprocity varies as a function of the content domain under investigation. Generalized reciprocity for attributes with primarily communal content (e.g., friendliness) was hypothesized to be more positive than generalized reciprocity for attributes with primarily agentic content (e.g., assertiveness). Sixty-four primary studies reporting correlations between perceiver and target effects with a total number of 17,561 participants were included in the analysis. Results of a multilevel meta-analytical random effects model showed that reciprocity correlations were slightly negative, but around zero, for primarily agentic attributes (r = -.05) and became more positive with increasing communal content (up to r = .18 for primarily communal attributes). Generalized reciprocity thus varied depending on the extent to which the regarded attribute is agentic versus communal.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 49(10), 1479–1494