Incorporating If...Then...Personality Signatures in Person Perception: Beyond the Person-Situation Dichotomy.

Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 05/2005; 88(4):605-18. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.88.4.605
Source: PubMed


Three studies investigated conditions in which perceivers view dispositions and situations as interactive, rather than independent, causal forces when making judgments about another's personality. Study 1 showed that perceivers associated 5 common trait terms (e.g., friendly and shy) with characteristic if...then... (if situation a, then the person does x, but if situation b, then the person does y) personality signatures. Study 2 demonstrated that perceivers used information about a target's stable if...then... signature to infer the target's motives and traits; dispositional judgments were mediated by inferences about the target's motivations. Study 3 tested whether perceivers draw on if...then... signatures when making judgments about Big Five trait dimensions. Together, the findings indicate that perceivers take account of person-situation interactions (reflected in if...then... signatures) in everyday explanations of social behavior and personality dispositions. Boundary conditions are also discussed.

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    • "inferences that people make about the intentions of a person that are not necessarily tied to a permanent personality trait, but instead implicate the desires of the person within a specific context, or when interacting with specific stimuli where one is afforded an opportunity to pursue a desired state in that moment. Thus, part of the reason the goal has been heretofore sentenced to a minor role in theories of sense making is that a goal/intention inference (one that captures the interaction of person and situation) is overshadowed by theories embracing a dichotomy between trait and situational effects on behavior (Chiu & Hong, 1992; Kammrath, Mendoza-Denton, & Mischel, 2005; Plaks, Shafer, & Shoda, 2003). Social psychology is concerned with the interaction of the person and the situation as a discipline, so it is odd that when examining attribution it has largely focused on main effects and (relatively) ignored the interaction. "
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    ABSTRACT: When people learn about or observe the behaviors of others, they tend to make implicit inferences from these behaviors (e.g., Uleman, Saribay, & Gonzalez, 2008). Such inferences are an essential part of a person's ability to understand his/her environment and to prepare appropriate behavior within that environment. In the present paper, we review the conditions under which people are more likely to make implicit goal inferences versus implicit trait inferences. The distinction between these two ways of understanding the behavior we observe has important consequences for how we make predictions about future behavior, set expectations for our interaction partners, and how we choose to behave. It can determine when we stereotype. However, until now, the literature has focused on trait inference as the dominant way perceivers make sense of their environment, with little discussion of inferences concerning a person's goals.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Social and Personality Psychology Compass
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    • "Similarly, field research has found that staff ratings of overall aggression do not distinguish between two types of functionally distinct children: those who became more likely over time to experience aversive events (e.g., peer tease) but became less likely to react aggressively when this occurred, versus those who showed the opposite changes in these events and reactions (Wright et al. 2011). Numerous studies demonstrate that observers are sensitive to contextualized behavior patterns (Fournier et al. 2008; Kammrath et al. 2005), and incorporate situational information into their personality judgments (Smith and Collins 2009). However, these sensitivities depend on the conditions under which raters process information. "
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    ABSTRACT: This research examined how people’s ability to detect behavior change in simulated child targets is affected by their clinical experience and the assessment method they use. When using summary assessment methods that are widely employed in research and clinical practice, both inexperienced and experienced clinical staff detected changes in the overall frequency of targets’ aggressive behavior, but were not uniquely influenced by changes in targets’ reactions to social events. When using contextualized assessment methods that focused on conditional reactions, experienced staff showed greater sensitivity than novices to context-specific changes in targets’ aggressive and prosocial reactions to aversive events. Experienced staff also showed greater sensitivity to context-specific changes in their overall impressions of change, but only for aggression. The findings show how clinically experienced judges become more attuned to if…then… contingencies in children’s social behavior, and how summary assessment methods may hamper the detection of change processes.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
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    • "These findings indicate that perceivers can be quite attentive to the situational forces surrounding aggression and, as a result, the negativity of inferences about motives and traits depends heavily on how those situations are interpreted. In addition, MIM directs attention to perceivers' inferences about both motives and traits, suggesting that perceivers integrate various pieces of information in an effort to create a coherent impression (Asch, 1946; Kammrath et al., 2005; Read & Miller, 1993, 2005; Roese & Morris, 1999; Shoda & Mischel, 1993; Trope & Gaunt, 2000). When perceivers learn about the behavior of Milgram's teachers, what situational cues are likely to draw attention? "
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    ABSTRACT: The research investigated impressions formed of a "teacher" who obeyed an experimenter by delivering painful electric shocks to an innocent person (S. Milgram, 1963, 1974). Three findings emerged across different methodologies and different levels of experimenter-induced coercion. First, contrary to conventional wisdom, perceivers both recognized and appreciated situational forces, such as the experimenter's orders that prompted the aggression. Second, perceivers' explanations of the teacher's behavior focused on the motive of obedience (i.e., wanting to appease the experimenter) rather than on hurtful (or evil) motivation. Despite this overall pattern, perceptions of hurtful versus helpful motivation varied as a function of information regarding the level of coercion applied by the experimenter. Finally, theoretically important relationships were revealed among perceptions of situations, motives, and traits. In particular, situational cues (such as aspects of the experimenter's behavior) signaled the nature of the teacher's motives, which in turn informed inferences of the teacher's traits. Overall, the findings pose problems for the lay dispositionism perspective but fit well with multiple inference models of dispositional inference.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2008 · Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
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