Neuroticism and Interpersonal Perception: Evidence for Positive, But Not Negative, Biases

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Description: Objective: Personality dispositions predict how individuals perceive, interpret, and react to social interactions with others. A still unresolved question is (1) whether these personality-congruent interpersonal perceptions reflect perception biases, which occur when perceivers’ dispositions systematically predict deviations between perceivers’ and other people’s perceptions of the same interaction, and/or selection effects, which occur when perceivers’ dispositions predict their selection of interaction partners, and (2) whether these effects feed back into perceivers’ personality. Method: Data from 110 psychology freshmen involving repeated assessments of neuroticism and repeated interpersonal perceptions of social interactions with fellow students were analyzed to address these questions, focusing on neuroticism. Results: There is evidence for a neuroticism-related positivity bias in interpersonal perceptions (i.e., perceivers high in neuroticism tended to make more positive judgments of others’ sociability and warmth), but little evidence for personality-congruent selection effects (i.e. neuroticism-related preferences for interaction partners). The positivity bias did not predict intrapersonal changes in neuroticism over time, but the selection of specific interaction partners did. Conclusions: These findings help to shed light on the interpersonal perception dynamics of neuroticism in a real-life context and add to our understanding of the psychological mechanisms underlying the interplay of personality and interpersonal perceptions.

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