The Good Trait

Some traits may be more difficult to judge than others. Some traits such as extraversión, for instance, are easy to judge, whereas others require more specific information and longer acquaintanceship (e.g., Colvin & Funder, 1991; Park & Judd, 1989; Paunonen, 1989). According to the RAM, differences between the judgability of traits may stem from their visibility, their availability and relevance, evaluative properties, and adaptive importance.

A large body of research has consistently demonstrated the effect of trait visibility, or trait observability, on trait perception. It is well established that trait visibility is highly correlated with self-other agreement and consensus (e.g., Bernieri, Zucker-man, Koestner, & Rosenthal, 1994; Borkenau & Liebler, 1992; Funder & Colvin, 1988; Funder & Dobroth, 1987; Kenny, Albright, Malloy, & Kashy, 1994; Kenrick & Stringfield, 1980; Kurtz & Sherker, 2003; Levesque & Kenny, 1993; Watson, Hubbard, & Wiese, 2000). The WAM and the RAM have different views on the trait visibility effects. Whereas the WAM assumes that visibility results from the match of similar meaning systems between the self and others (Kenny, 1991, 1994), the RAM supposes that trait visibility results in higher self-other agreement or consensus because it is based more on direct behavioral observation than on arbitrary social construction (Funder, 1995, 1999). However, the established effect of trait visibility has clear implications for research practice. According to the RAM, availability and relevance are different aspects of a trait's visibility. One specific behavior may be relevant to a trait, whereas it may not be available for informants. Behavioral cues, for instance, relevant for conscientiousness may be inferred from viewing peoples' bedrooms and offices, but these cues are not available in restaurants or gyms (Gosling et al., 2002).

The observability of traits is also related to their evaluative properties. Some traits may be more desirable than others, which is why social desirability of a trait may affect consensus or self-other agreement. John and Robins (1993), for instance, found that extremely desirable or undesirable traits yielded lower self-other agreement as compared with more neutral traits. Judgments of evaluatively loaded traits may be more likely to become biased by self-protective and self-enhancing motivational effects. John and Robins found that targets judged by others as high on evaluatively extreme traits (i.e., "saints") rate themselves modestly, whereas people negatively rated by others (i.e., "jerks") generally present themselves in the best light. In this vein, it may be concluded that self-peer agreement is lower on ambiguous traits (Asendorpf & Ostendorf, 1998; Hayes & Dunning, 1997). Finally, few personality traits are completely evaluatively neutral, which is why trait evaluativeness should be considered when utilizing informant assessment (Borkenau, 1990).

From an evolutionary perspective, traits have differential adaptive importance. A person's environment primarily consists of other individuals, which is why Buss (1999) argued that individual differences between one's social partners represent important vectors of the human adaptive landscape. It may follow from this line of reasoning that accuracy may be more adaptive for some traits, while at the same time inaccuracy may be even more adaptive for other traits. A trait adaptive to both detection and to display might be sociosexuality, and it was indeed shown that judgmental accuracy of others' sociosexuality was greater than accuracy of traits with less evolutionary significance (e.g., social potency and closeness), although accuracy of sociosexuality also varied as a function of both the judge's and the target's sex (Gangestad, Simpson, DiGeronimo, & Biek, 1992).

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