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A Room With a Cue: Personality Judgments Based on Offices and Bedrooms

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2 A Room With a Cue: Personality Judgments Based on Offices and Bedrooms
Samuel D. Gosling and Sei Jin Ko, University of Texas at Austin Thomas Mannarelli, INSEAD Margaret E. Morris, Sapient Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2002


4 Introduction Individuals select and craft physical environments that reflect and reinforce who they are. Observers use the information available in everyday environments to form impressions of what the occupants of those environments are like.

5 Brunswik’s Lens Model (1956)

6 Mechanisms Linking Individuals to the Environments They Inhabit
Identity claims: Self-directed: People choose decorations that fit their own personal taste and aesthetic Other-directed: Displaying symbols to make statements to others Conceptually distinct motivations

7 Mechanisms Linking Individuals to the Environments They Inhabit
Behavioral residue: Interior: Physical traces of activities conducted in the environment Exterior: Physical traces of activities conducted outside the environment These four mechanisms can be interlinked

8 Mechanisms Linking Individuals to the Environments They Inhabit

9 The Five Factor Model Openness to Experience: Creative, imaginative, abstract, curios, inventive, deep thinkers, value art NOT convectional, concrete, traditional. Conscientiousness: Efficient, organized, thorough dependable, hardworking NOT reckless, disorganized, careless and impulsive. Extraversion: Talkative, enthusiastic, energetic, outgoing, assertive, sociable NOT reserved, quiet, shy. Agreeableness: Helpful, selfless, forgiving, trusting, sympathetic, considerate, kind, affectionate NOT blunt, quarrelsome, critical, harsh Emotional Stability: Calm, relaxed, able to handle stress NOT easily upset, tense, moody, and anxious

10 The Five Factor Model Openness to Experience: (8+Q5-Q10)/2
Averages: Male – 5.39 Female – 5.45 Conscientiousness: (8+Q3-Q8)/2 Averages: Male – 5.27 Female – 5.56 Extraversion: (8+Q1-Q6)/2 Averages: Male – 4.30 Female – 4.68 Agreeableness: (8+Q7-Q2)/2 Averages: Male – 5.05 Female – 5.36 Emotional Stability: (8+Q9-Q4)/2 Averages: Male – 5.27 Female – 4.65

11 Research Goals The primary aim was to document:
Evidence for observer accuracy Links between occupants and the physical features of their personal environments (i.e., cue validity) Links between the physical features and observers’ impressions of occupants (i.e., cue utilization) Stereotype use

12 Research Steps Examining inter-observer agreement
Testing the accuracy of the observations Exploring cue utilization and cue validity Understanding the role of stereotypes Issues were addressed in bedrooms and offices

13 Question 1: Consensus Do observers agree about Individuals’ personalities on the basis of their personal environments? According to past zero-acquaintance studies, observer consensus is not equally strong for all traits (Extraversion consensus > Agreeableness consensus). We expect that physical spaces would provide observers with more information about some traits than about others, thus increasing the consensus regarding these traits

14 Question 2: Accuracy Are observers’ impressions correct?
Previous zero-acquaintance studies showed observer judgments had some correlation with self reports Since personal environments are richer in information than are zero-acquaintance contexts we expected significant accuracy correlations for observer judgments

15 Question 3: Cue Utilization and Cue Validity
Which cues in personal environments do observers use to form their impressions, and which cues are valid? Coded features of the environments were correlated with: Observer judgments (cue utilization) Criterion measures (cue validity)

16 Question 4: Stereotype Use
How do stereotypes used by observers affect consensus and accuracy? Do observers rate differently occupants they believe to belong to a given social category (e.g., female, white)? Consensus will increase if observers hold and use the same stereotypes Stereotypes are sometimes true…

17 Design of the Studies We examined the above four questions in offices and bedrooms, settings that may facilitate the accumulation of behavioral residue and permit other forms of self-expression. Study 1: Office spaces Study 2: Apartment rooms and dorm rooms

18 Observer Judgments The observers were untrained undergraduate students. The observers were unacquainted with the participants and did not discuss their ratings with one another. All photos of occupants and reference to occupants’ names were covered We obtained consensus estimates by computing the mean correlation among the observers’ ratings.

19 Accuracy Criteria Self-ratings from occupants and peer ratings from the occupants’ close acquaintances were obtained. Accuracy estimates were obtained by correlating the observers’ ratings with the combined self- and peer ratings. On average, the self ratings had correlation with peer ratings. Peer ratings had correlation

20 Environmental Cues A separate team of coders examined and recorded the features of each room. Cue utilization and cue validity estimates were obtained by correlating these codings. Vector correlations between the cue-utilization correlations and the cue-validity correlations were computed.

21 Sex and Race of Occupants
Observer estimates of the sex and race of occupants were used to assess the mediational role of sex and race stereotypes on interobserver consensus and accuracy.

22 Results – Study 1 - Offices
Some traits are assessed more accurately than others High vector correlations usually means higher accuracy and consensus

23 Offices Results - Openness

24 Offices Results - Conscientiousness

25 Offices Results - Agreeableness

26 Offices Results - Continued
Extraversion: Good (but overrated) cues - decorated, cheerful, inviting, colorful, distinctive etc. Emotional stability: Misused cues: Inviting, organized, comfortable, good condition etc. Underused cues: formal, modern, undecorated, unvaried books/CDs/magazines, indistinctive

27 Results – Study 2 - Bedrooms

28 Results - Bedrooms Observers usually use similar cues for offices and bedrooms

29 Results - Bedrooms Openness and Conscientiousness have similar cues in offices and bedrooms. Extraversion, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability have few distinctive cues.

30 Bedrooms Results – Emotional Stability

31 Comparison with Previous Research

32 Comparison with Previous Research

33 Results - Offices/Bedrooms comparison
Accuracy correlations are usually higher in bedrooms than in offices College students are particularly prone to self expression Observers are also college students Office décor is often restricted by guidelines Individuals in offices are often concerned about projecting a positive image Bedrooms are richer environments than offices

34 Results- stereotypes Stereotypes did affect the observers!

35 Limitations Occupants may have tidied or altered their rooms before the assessment team arrived Occupants may craft their environment to project specific impressions that they deem desirable A limited set of cues was used

36 Conclusion The research provides strong support for the assumption underlying this test: much can be learned about people from the spaces in which they dwell

37 Other Papers by the Same Writer
The do re mi's of everyday life: The structure and personality correlates of music preferences Personality impressions based on Facebook profiles e-Perceptions: Personality impressions based on personal websites Do people know how they behave? Self- reported act frequencies compared with on-line codings by observers From mice to men: what can we learn about personality from animal research?

38 מגירה


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