Impression formation - Research

Categories: PsychologyResearch

When we meet an individual for the first time in our lives we begin to evaluate them instantly and immediately form judgments on their character and personality through what we observe by watching them, speaking to them or in some cases hearing prior information about them from third parties. We use any data that is available at the time to form judgements and these judgements have the tendency to be permanent assumptions. Asch (1946) proposed that impression formation is the result of gathering together a list of traits associated with a person and using these to produce an impression.

Asch conducted a study in which participants were given either warm (happy, fun and positive) or cold (negative, unhappy and pessimistic) words to describe an individual. The participants were then asked to write a few sentences about the individual and what they felt about them. Results showed that those who were described as warm were described by participants as being happy and generous whereas those who were associated with the word cold were described with the opposite traits than those with the word warm.

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Asch found that those who were described as intelligent or skilful were seen as this by third parties. Consequently these findings provided evidence for the halo effect (Feingold 1992) Psychologists use the term halo effect (Feingold 1992) whereby if a person is described through the use of positive words, he or she will be seen as a positive. Although Asch’s study found a direct link between pre-information and impression formation, many psychologists oppose his view and argue that Asch’s study lacks realism and therefore is difficult to apply to real life and subsequently lacks ecological validity.

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This means that Asch’s studies cannot be used to explain occurrences revolving around impression formation in real life. This is due to the fact there is a large amount of artificiality and therefore results may have been susceptible by demand characteristics exhibited by participants. This is because the words cold and warm may be associated with something within a different dimension and not central traits such as warm meaning happy and vice versa.

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Impression formation - Research. (2017, Sep 26). Retrieved from

Impression formation - Research

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