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Are first impressions accurate?
- Yes- Ambady & Rosenthal (1992)
- Meta analysis into the correlations between prima facie judgments made about the personality of others
- There was a .39 correlation between personality ratings made during first impressions and external ratings
- The accuracy of judgments made after 30 seconds did not significantly differ from those made after 4-5 minutes
- Supported by Ambady & Rosenthal (1993) who found that initial ratings of teacher effectiveness were correlated with later evaluations
- P's watched 2-5 second clips of nonverbal behaviour of 12 teachers and rated their effectiveness, these correlated with later evaluations after being taught by them
What are the sources of error when making first impressions?
- Hastorf & Cantril (1954)
- Our first impressions are often shaped by expectations, and these can be erroneous
- P's watched a game of american football and rated how many fouls afterwards
- People thought they saw fewer fowls from their own team
What is selective perception?
- The process whereby we are more likely to see what we expect to see and what we want to see
- The information we process is then distorted in a way that harmonises with, and supports our current goals and beliefs
- Bruno & Postman (1949)
- Participants were shown cards with the wrong colours and asked what they had seen
- A number of participants believed they had seen the cards with the suit associated with the colour they saw, rather than the actual suit they saw
What are contrast effects?
The phenomenon in which ratings on things such as performance in a task are increased or diminished by subsequent exposure to better or worse performance- Herr, Sherman & Fazio (1983)
Does order have an effect on first impressions?
- Yes- Asch (1946)
- P's shown lists of character traits either beginning with envious or having it appear later in the list
- Asked to make evaluations on the person described
- The list without envious first was rated as more positive
- This suggests that the primacy effect is occurring: the information you see first has the most effect on evaluation and we then interpret further information differently to fit the idea of the person we already have in our head using confirmation bias
Does economic background affect first impressions?
- Yes- Darley & Gross
- P's shown videos of a little girl "Hannah" reading or doing maths
- Either told she was rich or poor
- Perceived performance was higher when she was seen as rich
- This effect was not seen if they didn't see the video
How does fundamental attribution error affect the impressions we make about others?
- We tend to attribute the behaviours of others with their stable personality rather than their unstable and ever changing situation
- Jones & Harris (1967)
- P's saw others read out essays they had written and evaluated how pro Castro they were
- Even when they were explicitly told the other person had been directed to write a pro-Castro speech they still rated them as having more pro Castro beliefs
- This has not been found to extend to eastern cultures, however -Miller (1984)
- Indian and American P's asked to narrate 2 prosocial and 2 deviant behaviours and give the reasoning behind them
- Americans were much more likely to focus on personal factors whereas Indians focussed on social factors
- Ross, Amabile & Steinmetz (1977)
- Assigned as wither quiz masters of quiz contestants
- Watchers and contestants rated the quiz masters as having more general knowledge
What is generalization vs contextualisation?
- Gawronski et al (2010)
- Attention to attentional cues when encoding evaluative information depends on whether this information is stored in a context free or contextualised representation
- Initial experiences are stored in a context free representation whilst counter-attitudinal ones are stored in contextualised ones
- We make excuses for behaviour that violates the image we have of people
Why are dispositional attributions automatic and persistent?
- We attribute events to the most salient factors at the time
- The actor is more salient and conspicuous than the context meaning the context is ignored somewhat
- These dispositions are unchanging and give us a sense of certainty and control over the world
- We underestimate the capacity of the situation to control behaviour
- Behaviour is easier to interpret in a manner sympathetic to our ideals than events
What is the three stage model of attribution?
- Weiner (1935)
- Behaviour is first observed
- It is then determined to be intentional or not
- Finally it is attributed to internal or external causes
- The most important factors affecting this are ability, effort, task difficulty and luck
- P's watched a nervous looking woman talking about either mundane things or sordid secrets
- Rated the first as being more nervous
- Suggests that higher cognitive load reduces our ability to attribute properly- Gilbert, Pelham & Krull (1988)
What is the continuum model of impression formation?
- Fiske & Neuberg (1990)
- Our model of impression formation occurs on a continuum
- First we categorise people based on salient features such as gender, ethnicity and age
- This categorisation can be altered if the person shows relevance to the rater. If the person is interesting they spend more time looking at their other individuating factors and if they're boring they stop evaluating there
- If relevant and interesting, and if the rater has the time and attentional resources, additional information about the target is analysed
- This information is then incorporated into the category this person is in, and if it is inconsistent the category is re-evaluated and a more suitable attitude is formed
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