Guessing personality from a brief sample of behaviour

Wu, Wenjie (2015) Guessing personality from a brief sample of behaviour. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Mentalising as a process for explaining and predicting behavior relates to inferring mental states and traits of others. Previous research of mentalising has focused too heavily on mental states and insufficiently on personality traits. Given this context, the current thesis aimed to explore the phenomenon of forming first impressions of personality based on a brief sample of behavior.

In the current research, after being filmed in diverse naturalistic scenarios, targets filled in an “empathy quotient” (EQ) questionnaire and the NEO Five-Factor Inventory-3 (NEO-FFI-3) for respectively measuring empathic traits and the Big-Five personality dimensions. Perceivers were asked to guess the results of target self-reported EQ or the Big Five traits while observing the target in the context of minimal information presented in different types of way (e.g., videos, audios and photographs). Findings from Studies 1 to 8 converge in revealing that perceivers are surprisingly effective in accurately guessing targets who either had low or high EQ and targets who were extreme in one or more personality dimensions, but not so effective in identifying targets with average personality. These judgments were based on the behavior of the target and not merely on an image of the target. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that perceivers were biased to assume the targets were rather similar to how empathizing they perceived themselves, but perceivers’ confidence did not predict their accuracy in judgments of target empathy. Study 6 demonstrated a relationship between perceivers’ ratings of targets’ expressivity and how perceivers judged target EQ. Additionally, a survey was created to examine people’s commonsense views about first impressions of personality.

Results of all studies were discussed with reference to the processes by which people make first-impression personality judgments. The current research adds to the literature of mentalising in speaking about the breadth, versatility and sensitivity of our abilities.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Mitchell, Peter
Sheppard, Elizabeth
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 27703
Depositing User: WU, WENJIE
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2015 07:29
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2021 13:51

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