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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 my research focuses on identifying individual differences that are related to accurate judgments. One line of study I have taken is the degree to which judges possess a tendency to understand others’ thoughts, feelings, and purposes (i.e., empathy, broadly defined), for which I have found a positive relation with accuracy of personality judgments (Colman, Letzring, & Biesanz, in press). Another line of inquiry is on the implicit mindset of the person making the judgments. Specifically, I am in the final stages of a pre-registered study testing if a belief that intelligence and personality are malleable (e.g., a growth mindset) is positively related to the accuracy with which impressions of personality are made. Because identifying the good judge of personality is my primary line of research, I am continuing to explore a variety of other individual differences.

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Training the Good Judge

A key aspect to my research on the good judge is the exploration of correlates that are trainable. Not only are my 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, I am in the process of expanding my research on the relation between empathic tendencies and accurate personality judgment. Specifically, can a simple empathy manipulation result in meaningful increases to judgmental accuracy? Relatedly, because a growth mindset is trainable (e.g., Dweck, 2012), my ongoing study on implicit mindsets and accuracy of personality judgment will be another potential avenue for training the good judge.

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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, I am interested in exploring the relations between quality leadership and the accuracy of first impressions. More specifically, I would like to increase understanding regarding how leaders’ level of accuracy in perceiving others’ characteristics mediate the path from leader-follower relations to positive organizational behaviors, and ultimately impact tangible outcomes.

 

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