Research

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First Impressions of Others

There exists variability in the ability to judge others’ characteristics; that is, some people are better than others at making accurate first impressions (e.g., Letzring, 2008). As such, a significant portion of this lab’s research focuses on identifying individual differences that are related to accurate judgments. One line of study is exploration of the degree to which judges possess a tendency to understand others’ thoughts, feelings, and purposes (i.e., empathy, broadly defined), for which a positive relation with accuracy of personality judgments has been found (Colman, Letzring, & Biesanz, 2017). Another line of inquiry has with the implicit mindset of the person making the judgments. We have found that normative accuracy (an understanding of what people are like in general) is related to having a growth mindset for intelligence, but not personality. Ultimately, because identifying the good judge of personality is our primary line of research, we are continuing to explore a variety of other individual differences.

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Training the Good Judge

A key aspect to our research on the good judge is the exploration of correlates that are trainable. Not only are these interests at the level of basic research (who are the good judges), but also extend to the applied domain (how does one become a better judge). For example, we are currently in the process of expanding the research on the relation between empathic tendencies and accurate personality judgment. Specifically, we have a study under way in which we are exploring if a simple empathy manipulation results in meaningful increases to judgmental accuracy. Relatedly, because a growth mindset is trainable (e.g., Dweck, 2012), the recent study on implicit mindsets and accuracy of personality judgment serves as another potential avenue for training the good judge. The goal of the APPLE research lab is to increasingly conduct more research with an applied focus.

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Role of First Impressions in Leadership

The applied value of research on the accuracy of interpersonal judgment is high, especially to those interested in leadership and organizational behavior. Research on leadership has glazed over the importance of accurately viewing and understanding others, yet this is an implicit requirement of many theoretical models of leadership (e.g., Leader-Member Exchange, Transformational). Leaders’ ability to influence organizational behaviors and attitudes of followers is aided by making and properly utilizing accurate personality judgments. Given this, we are keenly interested in exploring the relations between quality leadership and the accuracy of first as well as ongoing impressions of others. Specifically, we are seeking to increase understanding of how leaders’ level of accuracy in perceiving others’ characteristics mediates the path from leader-follower relations to positive organizational behaviors, and ultimately impact tangible outcomes. We are only currently exploring these from a theoretical lens, but hope to begin empirical work soon.

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