Does having a third party praise you influence others – even if that third party is obviously biased?

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Prior research has shown that positive information presented by a third party shields people from the negative consequences of being perceived as self-promoting. But in many contexts, those third parties are intermediaries with a financial interest in the person being promoted rather than neutral parties. In three experimental studies, the authors demonstrate that even when intermediaries are not neutral, they can be helpful for overcoming the self-promotion dilemma—the need to assert one’s competence but not be harmed by the fact that people who self-promote are viewed negatively. The authors find that hiring an agent to sing one’s praises results in more favorable perceptions of the client, which contributes, in turn, to a greater willingness to offer that person assistance. It is also shown that even when the intermediary is physically present and seen to be complicit with the client, the positive effects of having someone else speak on one’s behalf persist.

Source: “Overcoming the Self-Promotion Dilemma: Interpersonal Attraction and Extra Help as a Consequence of Who Sings One’s Praises” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 32, No. 10, 1362-1374 (2006)

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