Theoretical Models Of Person Perception

The history of using informant assessment is closely linked to the history of research in accuracy of person perception. Two waves of accuracy research can be distinguished. During the first half of the 20th century, when research on the accuracy of personality judgment was flourishing (e.g., Taft, 1955; Vernon, 1933), researchers commonly questioned how well members of a group agreed in their judgments of each other. The typical accuracy criterion of the informant judgments was self-other agreement or consensus. One of the first critiques of judgmental accuracy research argued that judges did nothing other than project their own personality characteristics on their target. The most damaging critique was proposed by Cronbach (1955) and Gage and Cronbach (1955), who argued that measures of accuracy used in studies of self-other agreement and consensus (e.g., discrepancy or profile-similarity scores) were hopelessly contaminated by artifac-tual components, which were often independent of an informant's ability to assess a target's personality or behavior.

According to Cronbach's critique, accuracy measures consist of four components (see Figure 4.1). The first component, elevation, reflects the correspondence between the informant's mean judgment across targets and traits and the overall mean across targets and traits. Elevation occurs if judges and targets use the same response sets. As a result, self-other agreement and consensus would be high for artificial reasons. The second component, stereotype, pertains to the correspondence between an informant's mean rating over all targets and targets' average criterion ratings on that trait in question. Stereotype ratings result when an informant's ratings reflect the "average" personality, although the rating could be accurate to the extent to which the target resembles the average person. The third component, differential elevation, refers to the correspondence between an informant's trait ratings averaged for one target and the target's averaged criterion ratings,

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