Consensus in personality judgments at zero acquaintance

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988 Sep;55(3):387-95. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.55.3.387.


This research focused on the target effect on a perceiver's judgments of personality when the perceiver and the target are unacquainted. The perceiver was given no opportunity to interact with the target, a condition we refer to as zero acquaintance. We reasoned that in order to make personality judgments, perceivers would use the information available to them (physical appearance). Consensus in personality judgments would result, then, from shared stereotypes about particular physical appearance characteristics. Results from three separate studies with 259 subjects supported this hypothesis. On two of the five dimensions (extraversion and conscientiousness) on which subjects rated each other, a significant proportion of variance was due to the stimulus target. Consensus on judgments of extraversion appears to have been largely mediated by judgments of physical attractiveness. Across the three studies there was also evidence that the consensus in judgments on these two dimensions had some validity, in that they correlated with self-judgments on those two dimensions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Beauty*
  • Esthetics*
  • Extraversion, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Personality*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Perception*
  • Social Responsibility