Is a first impression accurate with our own perception

This study will establish if first impressions of specific personality traits – extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness to experience have consensus between two strangers using a thin slice approach. We expected that there would be a consensus between the strangers and that extroversion, conscientiousness and neuroticism being the easiest of the five to judge.

The study was completed using a correlation design with ten variables (BFI-10 & BFI44) and five correlations. There was 93 participants with an age range of 18-44 yrs who were left in room for exactly five minutes to ‘chat’ and were the required to complete a BFI-10 and BFI-44 for themselves and the stranger they were chatting with. Results showed that strangers can accurately judge personality in a short space of time and of all the ‘big five’ personality traits extroversion was the easiest of them all to judge.

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Every day we observe people and an impression immediately forms of that person, a couple of words can tell us a lot about a person and their personality, this takes as long as 5-30 seconds to be created and can take a lot longer to change. But are the impressions correct with an individual’s own perception of their own personality and intelligence?

Borkenau and Liebler (1993) compared stranger ratings of personality and intelligence with actual intelligence and self rated personality; the participants were videotaped reading a standard text, once finished participants were required to complete rating scales for personality traits and intelligence for themselves and their partners. Participants were also given an intelligence test to complete. Judges were then shown the videotapes of the participant some with audio and some without and were asked to provide ratings on each individuals personality and intelligence. The results replicate other findings (Albright, Kenny, ; Malloy 1988, Borkenau ; Liebler 1992) suggesting that stranger agreement is quite accurate in rating others individual personalities and intelligence.

Carney, Colvin and Hall (2007) also examined how accurate first impressions were using a thin slice approach (5 seconds to 5 minutes) to see how long it took to make an accurate judgement. They videotaped participants talking to a member of the opposite sex and then showed the beginning, middle or end of the videotapes to a panel of judges who had never met any of the individuals who then measured the participants on eight constructs – positive affect, negative affect, neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and intelligence quotient. The results suggested that the longer people were exposed to each other the more accurate the first impression depending on the type of judgement, as the negative affect, openness to experience, neuroticism and intelligence quotient was no more accurate at the 5 second marker than the 5 minute marker.

This shows us that personality traits extroversion and agreeableness are easier to judge rather than neuroticism and conscientiousness.

This study aims to establish if first impressions of specific personality traits are consistent with an individual’s opinion of themselves and that of a stranger’s opinion using face to face contact because in previous studies participants were viewed via videotaped which does not occur in real life situations. There are three hypotheses to be tested in this study, if a stranger can judge an individual’s personality accurately then there will be a positive correlation between the BFI-10(Rammstedt & John, 2007)

and BFI-44 (John& Benet Martinez & John, 1988) results. This study will also show which personality traits are easier to judge, if this is correct extroversion should score highest in the self-stranger ratings with conscientiousness second and agreeableness third. This study could also show that neuroticism and openness to experience will not be significantly correlated as these are the hardest to judge.

Method

Participants

Twenty-one males and seventy-two females psychology students were recruited to participate in this study with an age range of eighteen to forty-four (M=20.86, SD=5.039) based on ninety-one participants as two individuals did not state their age. The age range was not recorded in the data to guarantee participants remained anonymous.

Materials

Each participant were required to complete a BFI-10(Rammstedt & John, 2007), (see appendix 1) which consisted of ten descriptive questions such as – I see this person as someone who is reserved, which were rated on a scale of one -five, one being that they disagree strongly and five being that they agree strongly, they were some questions which were negatively scored and this was then recoded by subtracting the score for reversed score items from six, for example if the score was a four then you would calculate 6-4 which gives you a recoded score of 2, which then becomes 4, (1 becomes 5, 2 becomes 4, 3 remains 3, 4 becomes 2 and 5 becomes 1), the average of the personality traits were then calculated for all reverse scored items (see appendix 3).

Design

The chosen design was correlation study as this was the most appropriate for the timescale and information required, the study looked at five personality variables – extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness to experience and conscientiousness as there is two measures of personality (BFI-10(Rammstedt & John, 2007) and BFI-44 (John& Benet Martinez & John, 1988)) there is ten variables with five correlations.

Procedure

Participants entered the room and were then allocated into pre-determined pairs, where the researcher pretended to have forgotten the hand outs and would need to return to the office to retrieve them, the researcher told students to chat to the person they were paired with while they did this. The researchers absence was timed at exactly five minutes to control thin slice exposure, upon return the researcher told them all to be quiet immediately and handed each participant a BFI-10(Rammstedt & John, 2007) questionnaire packet and were told to complete them for the individual they were paired with participants were given five minutes for this. The researcher then gave the participants the BFI-44(John et al, 1988) to complete and was instructed they were completing a personality test and were allowed fifteen minutes to complete this. Once this was complete the researcher informed the participants that it is vital that they do not speak to others about this study as it relies on first impressions.