New resource for interpersonal perception researchers

Via Dave Kenny, I just found out about a new set of resources for researchers interested in personality and social relationships — and especially for users of the Social Relations Model.

Persoc is a research network founded by a group of mostly German researchers, although they seem to be interested in bringing people together from all over. From their website:

In September 2007 a group of young researchers who repeatedly met at conferences realized that they were all fascinated by the complex interplay of personality and social relationships. While we studied the effects of personality on very different social processes (e.g., zero acquaintance judgments, group formation, friendship development, mate choice, relationship maintenance), we shared a strong focus on observing real-life phenomena and implementing advanced methods to analyze our data. Since the official start of Persoc in late 2008, several meetings and workshops have deepened both, our interconnectedness as well as our understanding and interest in personality and social relationships. Persoc is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Among other things, they have created an R package called TripleR for analyzing round-robin data using the SRM componential approach. TripleR is intended as an alternative to the venerable SOREMO software created by Kenny. The persoc website also includes a page discussing theoretical concepts in interpersonal perception, an overview of a number of useful research designs, and other information.

Perceiver effects in interpersonal perception

Hot off the presses is a paper I wrote with Steve Guglielmo and Jenni Beer on perceiver effects in the Social Relations Model. Here’s the abstract:

In interpersonal perception, “perceiver effects” are tendencies of perceivers to see other people in a particular way. Two studies of naturalistic interactions examined perceiver effects for personality traits: seeing a typical other as sympathetic or quarrelsome, responsible or careless, and so forth. Several basic questions were addressed. First, are perceiver effects organized as a global evaluative halo, or do perceptions of different traits vary in distinct ways? Second, does assumed similarity (as evidenced by self-perceiver correlations) reflect broad evaluative consistency or trait-specific content? Third, are perceiver effects a manifestation of stable beliefs about the generalized other, or do they form in specific contexts as group-specific stereotypes? Findings indicated that perceiver effects were better described by a differentiated, multidimensional structure with both trait-specific content and a higher order global evaluation factor. Assumed similarity was at least partially attributable to trait-specific content, not just to broad evaluative similarity between self and others. Perceiver effects were correlated with gender and attachment style, but in newly formed groups, they became more stable over time, suggesting that they grew dynamically as group stereotypes. Implications for the interpretation of perceiver effects and for research on personality assessment and psychopathology are discussed.

A couple of quick comments to add:

  • This is an example of using the Big Five / Five-Factor Model not as a model of personality per se, but as a model of social perception. I very briefly mention this potential use of the Big Five in my guide to measuring the Big Five, and I’m currently working on a manuscript expanding on this idea. (BTW, I’m certainly not the first person to think of the Big Five in this way. I’m trying to carry this idea forward a bit, but it’s one of those cases where I oscillate between thinking what I’m saying about it is radically new and thinking ho-hum-we-already-thought-of-that.)
  • While we were working on this manuscript, I became aware that a group led by Dustin Wood was looking at very similar issues (but with some interesting differences in approach and areas of non-overlap). They’ve got a paper in press at JPSP.

If you want to read more you can download the PDF:

Srivastava, S., Guglielmo, S., & Beer, J. S. (2010). Perceiving others’ personalities: Examining the dimensionality, assumed similarity to the self, and stability of perceiver effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 520-534.