-Implicit Personality Theories



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Forming Impressions


Central and Peripheral Traits

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Implicit Personality Theories (Including personal constructs, the halo effect, and the effect of names)


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Implicit personality theories are our own ideas about which personality traits go together.


Personal Constructs- George Kelly (1955)

This is the theory that everyone develops their own theories about what people are like, through our own experiences. These theories are made up of pairs of words, on an either/or basis. These are called "personal constructs". For example, one person may have the construct friendly/unfriendly, whilst another may have the construct friendly/shy. This shows that the same words can have different meanings to different people.

Kelly developed a theory for working out these constructs, and maintained that these constructs represent the way we view the world, other people, and their behaviour- it all depends on what is important to the person percieving whatever events are in question.

Unfortunately, this theory is designed as an all-embracing one- however, it focuses only on the individual and the individuals perceptions, whilst ignoring their situation etc, meaning that important factors can be overlooked.



The Halo Effect- Karen Dion (1972)

The halo effect is the tendency to infer related personality traits from a single peice of information about another person. (For example, see Luchin on the Central/Peripheral traits) This is shown most obviously by physical attractiveness- Karen Dion found that an attractive person will be associated with more positive personality traits from a photograph alone, or be treated more leniently in real life situations.

In real life situations, the halo effect tends to be more prominent when there is one feature that attracts attention, and little else is known about the person. The more that is known, the less hold the halo effect has over people. However, this means that it is still a powerful effect when dealing with strangers, for example, during interviews. On a plus, if you know about the halo effect and keep it in mind, the effect can be reduced considerably.



The Effect of Names- H. Harari and J. McDavid (1973)

In this study, experienced teachers were asked to mark work by 11-yr-olds, with names attached. Some pieces of work were identicle, but given with different names attached. Invariably, the work with attractive names (i.e David, or Karen) recieved higher marks than work with unattractive names (I.e. Hubert or Bertha). This suggests that names can also be a cause of a halo effect.

However, there are several criticisms of this study. For instance, the teachers marking may have noticed the work was identicle, and felt expected to give different marks. And, of course, different teachers will invariably give slightly different marks, and being human, are also prone to the occassional mistake.














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