Interpersonal Sensitivity: Theory and Measurement

By Judith A. Hall; Frank J. Bernieri | Go to book overview

16
Three Trends in Current
Research on Person Perception:
Positivity, Realism,
and Sophistication
David C. Funder
University of California, Riverside

Research on person perception has changed a good deal, and for the better, since the late 1980s. This evolution of the broader field is clearly reflected in the contents of the present volume on interpersonal sensitivity. I submit that three trends are particularly important and can be seen both in the person perception literature and within the pages of this volume.


POSITIVITY

The first trend is positivity. For too many years, research on person perception had an awfully negative tone. The literature on “error” that dominated the 1970s and early 1980s was particularly depressing and sometimes even insulting, wherein researchers described their fellow humans as characteristically naËive, overconfident, oblivious, insensitive, and just plain wrong (Funder, 1992). Of course, the whole point of the error literature was to point out where judgment goes awry, so this emphasis was not surprising. However, research on topics such as interviewer ratings, as Riggio points out (chap. 15, this volume), more often focused on how to correct biases and errors than on how to actually make a correct judgment.

Several factors led this emphasis to change. One is simply that the “everything you know is wrong” approach, and its associated rhetoric, became old.

-319-

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