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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Knowing versus liking : separating normative knowledge from evaluation in impressions Rogers, Katherine Helen


Accurately perceiving the personality of the average person corresponds broadly with stereotype accuracy – the generalizability of one’s impressions to other individuals. Previous research has demonstrated that the normative personality profile is highly socially desirable (Borkenau & Zaltauskas, 2009; Wood, Gosling & Potter, 2007). Due to the highly evaluative nature of the normative personality profile, individual differences in perceiving others either more or less positively – the halo effect – is often considered an evaluative artifact that is either statistically removed or minimized through item selection. However, what if individual differences in normative judgments reflect not just evaluative tendencies but also individual differences in generalized knowledge? In Study 1, 1027 participants watched video clips and rated the personality of targets using the Big Five Inventory (BFI; John & Srivastava, 1999) and also completed personality self reports. Using the average self-reports and the social desirability of the personality items (Paulhus, 2009) to predict impressions, we find that despite a high correlation between the normative profile and social desirability, the two independently predict ratings of others. Further, in Study 2 using a modified Q-sort, perceivers (Sample 1 N = 77, Sample 2 N = 88, Sample 3 N = 62) sorted an abbreviated 24-item version of the BFI (John & Srivastava, 1999) describing the average person’s personality. On average, perceivers had accurate knowledge of the average individual’s personality. Additionally, perceivers with greater accuracy in describing the average person rated the personality of ten videotaped targets or the personality of other participants in the round-robin more normatively. This strongly suggests that individual differences in normative judgments are not simply evaluative, but also include a component of knowledge regarding the average personality. Further, consistent with these effects representing separate constructs, well-adjusted individuals achieve greater levels of normative accuracy by having greater normative knowledge, while perceivers who explicitly evaluate others more positively achieve greater normative accuracy by rating others in a more socially desirable manner.

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