Aggregating Social Behavior Into Person Models: Perceiver-Induced Consistency


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Abstract

Two experiments explored the role of perceivers (judges) in aggregating social behavior into impressions. In Experiment 1, it was predicted and found that judges influence impressions (i.e., eye-of-the-beholder effects) not only because they disagree on how to interpret single acts but because they aggregate multiple acts in unique ways to arrive at idiosyncratic impressions. Using D. A. Kenny's (1991) general model of accuracy and consensus, it was found that judges perceived much greater consistency in the behavior of targets across situations when they were asked to aggregate the behavior than when they were not. Differential interpretation of single acts did not change as a function of aggregating behavior. This aggregation process was characterized as the construction of models of persons. In Experiment 2, the concept of person models was explored further, and it was argued that perceivers develop these models on the basis of what is viewed as the central concept of a target. For any given target, a limited number of models can be identified, and different perceivers develop different models. The particular model formed has implications for the perceiver's underlying memory representation and the perceived personality profile of the target.

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