Term of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Dorthie Cross

Committee Member 1

Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 2

Ryan Couillou

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this research is to investigate how individuals form attitudes based on the appearance of another person and how malleable those attitudes are when the individual is presented with new information about the other person. The predicted effect from this study was that participants would form attitudes about another person's agreeableness based on visual information and that when presented counterattitudinal information would be more likely to change attitudes than information that matches their initial attitude. It was also expected that negative first impressions would be harder to change. METHOD: Participants (N = 109) were presented one of two versions of an image of a face (one version modified to enhance participants' impressions of the target's agreeableness, the other version modified to reduce impressions of the target's agreeableness) and asked to rate the target on the Big Five personality traits. Participants were then given a vignette in which the target was described as performing either a positive or a negative behavior and then asked to rate the target's personality again. Participants also completed a questionnaire about their own personality. RESULTS: Study hypotheses were partially supported. Participants did form impressions of the target's agreeableness based only on briefly presented visual information, and those impressions did change more in response to counterattitudinal than to consistent information but, contrary to hypotheses, only when the target was initially perceived as low in agreeableness. There were also findings related to participant personality and gender. These findings showed male participants formed more positive first impressions than women upon first viewing of the images. CONCLUSION: The attitudes and impressions from individuals about others can be manipulated by the appearance of that other person, however, the context in which the attitude is formed is also highly important.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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