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Factor structures in single target ratings of concrete cues and personality attributes. Batt, Barbara Sharon

Abstract

This study was designed to explore the process by which people make inferences about the characteristics of others. It has been shown that there are highly replicable interrelationships among groups of rated traits. These rating patterns are assumed to reflect, in part, a process of organization on the part of the raters. The present study sought to investigate rating relationships among groups of concrete cues (such, as voice, appearance and speech content variables) and among cues and personality traits, as well as among the personality traits themselves. Sound videotapes were used to present a series of nine ratees (targets) to the subjects. Each target was assessed on 53 variables, including 20 personality traits, and ratings were factor analyzed to reveal the patterns of response. A factor analysis was done for each of the nine sets of target ratings and the resulting factor structures were compared. The number of factors obtained varied only slightly from one target to another, indicating similarity across targets in impression complexity. Six groups of scales were found to be related in every analysis. These recurring clusters provided evidence of similarity in factor content across targets. However, systematic differences between factor structures were also apparent. Factors with similar content sometimes varied greatly in size from target to target; and some factors with psychologically meaningful content were represented in the structures of only two or three targets. Variability in factor structures was not predicted by either of the two current theories of attribute interrelationships (the semantic hypothesis and the inferential hypothesis). Interpretations of the variability were offered, postulating interactions between target attributes and the cognitive processes of the perceiver.

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