Uncovering the Psychological Process of Personality Judgment


Professor Yu Yang of the ShanghaiTech University School of Entrepreneurship and Management recently proposed a new theoretical model to better understand the underlying psychological process of personality judgment. This research was published in The Oxford Handbook of Psychological Situations in an article titled, “The Culturally Situated Process of Personality Judgment.”


Personality judgment has been considered as one of the most important research topics in psychology and behavioral science. Personality traits such as extraversion and agreeableness predict a wide range of individual outcomes (e.g., happiness, mortality), interpersonal (e.g., relationship with family members and coworkers), and societal outcomes (e.g., occupation, crime). Yet the psychological process through which people make personality judgment is still under studied.


After an extensive review of related research in personality, social, and cultural psychology, Professor Yang argued that people make personality judgment through two distinct mechanisms: comparing with a reference group of the target, and matching with a lay theory of the trait (see Figure). Both mechanisms are culturally situated such that the specific reference group and lay theory that people naturally choose come from their immediate cultural milieu, affecting trait judgment in systematic ways. Moreover, reference group and lay theory can exert their influence jointly or in separate ways. Professor Yang provided five postulates concerning the specific circumstances where either of these two mechanisms may have a larger impact. Additional implications for inferring traits from related situations, behaviors, and explanations, and possible routes to better compare groups on personality traits were also discussed.


Read more: http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190263348.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780190263348-e-30


Figure: The culturally situated process of personality judgment.