This paper develops the concept of implicit trait policy (ITP), which is a variant of the accentuation effect described by Tajfel (1957). ITPs are implicit beliefs about causal relations between personality traits and behavioral effectiveness. Studies reported here tested the hypotheses (a) that personality traits affect ITPs so that agreeable people, for instance, believe the relation between agreeableness and effectiveness is more strongly positive than disagreeable people do and (b) that ITPs can predict behavior that expresses associated personality traits. Two studies with undergraduate research participants supported the first hypothesis for traits of agreeableness and extraversion (the average correlation between traits and associated ITPs was .31 for agreeableness and .37 for extraversion) but not for conscientiousness. A 3rd study with student participants found that individual differences in ITPs for agreeableness predicted agreeable behavior (the average correlation was .33) in simulated work settings. These results suggest that ITPs may be useful for predicting work behavior that expresses personality traits even though ITPs may not be strongly correlated with the personality traits themselves.
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