Implicit Personality Theory


An implicit personality theory refers to a person's notions about which personality characteristics tend to co-occur in people. Can one assume, for example, that a person with a sense of humor is also intelligent? Is a charming person likely to be honest or dishonest? Is a leader someone likely to be friendly or aggressive? Implicit personality theories guide the inferences that social perceivers make of other people. For example, if a perceiver sees someone act in an energetic style and presumes that energy is linked to intelligence, then the perceiver will likely infer that the other person is intelligent.

History and Background

The notion of implicit personality theories was introduced into modern psychology by Lee Cronbach in the 1950s, with his notion of “the generalized other.” This ...

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