Meaningfulness of categorization and influence upon impression formation

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Tested the hypothesis that people will rely on chunks of information to the extent that they are meaningful in forming an overall assessment of a person. 20 master's level psychologists sorted 55 statements (made by a client in a therapy session) into groups of statements that seemed to belong together. Each category or group was then related on 12 personality dimensions relevant to counseling and therapy. Finally, Ss gave an overall rating of the person based on all categories of information. The meaningfulness of a category was defined by the number of items in it, by the extremity with which it was rated, and by its centrality within construct organization (as measured by loadings on the 1st component of a principal components analysis on the category by construct grid). Category influence was measured by the degree of correlation between each category's ratings and the ratings of the final judgment. While all 3 definitions of meaningfulness related significantly to category influence, centrality was a much more powerful predictor of category influence than item number or rating extremity. (French summary) (16 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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