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Personality judgment (or personality judgement in UK) is the process by which people perceive each other's personalities through acquisition of certain information about others, or meeting others in person. The purpose of studying personality judgment is to understand past behavior exhibited by individuals and predict future behavior. Theories concerning personality judgment focus on the accuracy of personality judgments and the effects of personality judgments on various aspects of social interactions. Determining how people judge personality is important because personality judgments often influence individuals' behaviors.


Accuracy


Perspectives on accuracy

Research on the accuracy of personality judgments varies based on three major perspectives on the basis of accurate personality judgment. These perspectives vary based on the criteria used to determine accuracy. *Pragmatism: The pragmatic perspective on accuracy suggests that people will only perceive aspects of personality that they can use when interacting with others. The personality judgments are deemed accurate when they are useful in future interactions. *Constructivism: The constructivist perspective on accuracy suggests that there is no objective, accurate measure of personality judgment. People may make differing personality judgments of the same person based on their unique perspectives of the judged person. According to constructivists, each judgment is equally correct. Thus, rather than focusing on accuracy of judgments, these researchers focus on the different methods and perspectives through which people make personality judgments. *Realism: The realistic perspective on personality judgment assumes that there is an objective reality in personality that can be measured empirically. Realists believe that personality judgments may be verified for accuracy by determining whether the judgments predict the target individual's behaviors. Accuracy may also be verified by agreement of personality judgments among several independent judges.


Contributors to accurate personality judgment

A variety of variables contribute to the accuracy or inaccuracy of personality judgment in systematic ways. These variables include characteristics of the individual whose
personality Personality is the characteristic sets of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. While there is no generally agreed upon definition of personality, most theories focus on motivation a ...
is being judged as well as characteristics of the individual who is judging personality.


Judge characteristics

Characteristics of the individual judging personality that contribute to accuracy include the following: *
Gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is ...

Gender
and ethnic similarity to target **A person is more likely to make an accurate personality judgment when the individual they are judging has the same gender and ethnicity as the judge. *
Stereotype Police officers buying doughnuts and coffee, an example of perceived stereotypical behavior in North America. Social psychology Social psychology is the Science, scientific study of how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individu ...
knowledge and utilization, **When judges are only aware of the target's group membership, judges are likely to base personality judgments on their knowledge of stereotypes concerning the relevant group. However, these effects are much stronger for gender stereotypes than ethnic stereotypes, such that even when abundant information about the target is available, judges will base personality judgment on gender stereotypes but not ethnic stereotypes. *Relationship to the target individual **Judges who are acquainted with the target individual typically provide more accurate personality judgments, presumably due to their knowledge of the individual across different types of situations. *Number of judges **Although one judge may provide an accurate personality judgment, the average of multiple judgments from different individuals more strongly predicts behavior than judgments from one individual. *Sex of the judge **Females typically provide more accurate personality judgments than males.


Target characteristics

Characteristics of the target individual that are important for accurate personality judgment include the following: *Visibility of the
trait Trait may refer to: * Phenotypic trait in biology, which involve genes and characteristics of organisms * Trait (computer programming), a model for structuring object-oriented programs (a template class in the C++ programming language) * Trait the ...
in question **Traits that are more readily observable are more likely to elicit accurate judgments.
Extraversion The trait theory, traits of extraversion (also spelled extroversion) and introversion are a central dimension in some human personality psychology, personality theories. The terms ''introversion'' and ''extraversion'' were introduced into psycho ...
is typically considered a more visible trait, whereas
neuroticism In the study of psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline o ...
is considered a less visible trait. *Psychological adjustment of the target individual **Individuals who are well-adjusted are more likely to elicit accurate personality judgments. Well-adjusted individuals reveal more about their personality to those they interact with, thus making it easier for others to judge them accurately. *Amount of personal disclosure **Targets of personality judgment who reveal personal information about themselves facilitate ease of accurate personality judgment for the traits of
agreeableness Agreeableness is a personality trait In psychology, trait theory (also called dispositional theory) is an approach to the study of human personality psychology, personality. Trait theorists are primarily interested in the measurement of ''traits'', ...
,
openness to experience Openness to experience is one of the domains which are used to describe human personality in the Five Factor Model The Big Five personality traits, also known as the OCEAN model, is a suggested taxonomy, or grouping, for personality Personality ...
, and
extraversion The trait theory, traits of extraversion (also spelled extroversion) and introversion are a central dimension in some human personality psychology, personality theories. The terms ''introversion'' and ''extraversion'' were introduced into psycho ...
. Additionally, individuals who disclose personal values to others may facilitate the ease of accurate judgment of
neuroticism In the study of psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline o ...
. *Expressions of
emotion Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent with a proposition. Several of these states are a comb ...

emotion
**Individuals who display facial expressions corresponding to negative emotions such as
fear Fear is an intensely unpleasant emotion Emotions are mental state, psychological states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure ...

fear
and
sadness Sadness is an emotional pain Psychological pain, mental pain, or emotional pain is an unpleasant feeling (a suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception ...

sadness
are judged as being more neurotic and less extraverted and agreeable. Individuals who display facial expressions corresponding to positive emotions are typically judged as being more extraverted and agreeable. *
Facial expression A facial expression is one or more motions or positions of the muscle Skeletal muscles (commonly referred to as muscles) are organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that ...
s corresponding to personality traits **Individuals are able to accurately judge many traits on the basis of viewing photographs of the faces of people who exemplify specific traits. Individuals are especially accurate at judging personality when viewing a photograph that consists of a composite of faces that display the same trait.


Effects on behavior

Personality judgment not only influences perceptions of individuals, it also may influence the behavior of individuals being judged. This phenomenon is known as
behavioral confirmationBehavioral confirmation is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy A self-fulfilling prophecy is the sociopsychological phenomenon of someone "predicting" or expecting something, and this "prediction" or expectation coming true simply because the person ...
, and occurs when one's preconceived ideas about a person influence the behavior of the person. For example, if an individual is believed to be aggressive, one's behavior toward that individual may elicit an aggressive response, even if the individual is not typically aggressive. Behavioral confirmation may occur in a variety of settings, including classrooms and social interactions. Researchers have shown that when a male individual believes he is talking to an attractive woman over the phone, the woman will act more sociable and agreeable than if the male believes he is talking to an unattractive woman. This suggests that the woman's behavior in this situation is being influenced by the male's expectations concerning her appearance, rather than her actual personality characteristics.


Cultural influences

An additional determinant of the processes through which personality is judged and the accuracy of these judgments is
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
. Typically, researchers report cross-cultural consistency in the judgment of personality. However, people from different types of cultures tend to find certain traits more easily identifiable than others, based on judging personality from facial characteristics of targets alone. For example, people from Western cultures are typically better able to identify the traits of
extroversion The traits of extraversion (or extroversion) and introversion are a central dimension in some human personality Personality is defined as the characteristic sets of behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; Amer ...
and
aggression Aggression is overt or covert, often harmful, social interaction with the intention of inflicting damage or other harm upon another individual. It may occur either reactively or without provocation. In humans, aggression can be caused by various ...
than individuals from Eastern cultures.


References

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