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Order Effects In Personality Impression

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Order Effects in Personality Impression Information


This study deals with the idea that the tendency of our culture is to judge personality based on limited first impressions. Participants were presented with a list of adjectives that described a hypothetical person. They were to form impressions about that individuals personality based on that list. The presentation order was counterbalanced with favorable, unfavorable, and neutral descriptors. These lists would be the sole basis of the formation of their impressions. Measurements were based on participant response using a rating scale, brief written impressions, and descriptive adjective check list. The hypothesis pertinent to this experiment is that primacy has an affect on how people form impressions. The results found here indicate that primacy is an important factor in impression formation.

Order Effects in Personality Impression Formation Method


Each experimenter was responsible for obtaining data from six participants. There was a total of forty eight students assembled on a volunteer basis from Southern Oregon University, Psychology 201 classes. They were rewarded with extra credit points in their classes for being involved, and docked points if they signed up but did not appear at the assigned times. They were all treated in accordance with the "Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct" (American Psychological Association, 1992).


Three lists of descriptive adjectives were used to describe the hypothetical person. The three lists are favorable to unfavorable (FU), unfavorable to favorable (UF), and neutral (N). These lists are located in Table 1. The rating scale used by the participants to rank their impression of the hypothetical person is provided in Table 2. Table 3 contains the adjective check list, which the participants would be required to complete after forming their impression.

Design and Procedure

Participants were sat down across from the experimenter in an observation room and informed about the process they were to be involved in. The experimenters had previously determined a counterbalanced order for the presentation of the adjectives: FUN, UFN, NFU. The order of adjective presentation and the participant response to that particular word list is relevant to the entire experiment, and the experimenters are responsible for tracking this information. The relationship between the independent variables, or adjective conditions, and the participant response, the dependent variables, are correlated for each participant throughout the experiment. To make the collection process easier, the experimenter provided each participant with a small packet that included the rating scale in Table 2, the adjective check list from Table 3, and a blank piece of paper for the subjects written impressions..

After the participants were read a description from one of the lists of adjectives from Table 1, the experimenter would have them rate their impression of this person from 1 (very unfavorable) to 9 (very favorable) using the rating scale provided in Table 2. The participants were then asked to write a short paragraph describing their impression of the hypothetical person. These paragraphs would be used later to test the rating scales against the impressions developed from these answers by the experimenters. After completing the paragraph the participants were then asked to check any adjectives from the check list, Table 3, that they felt were descriptive of that person. The entire process of this experiment took an average of seven minutes for each participant, and included an opportunity for them to ask questions about the procedure.


The participant impression ratings of the hypothetical person accumulated by each experimenter group were combined, and the mean average of the ratings were then determined for each group, FU, UF, and N. This data was then calculated through a one-way analysis of variance as represented in Fig.1.



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