Jeremy Biesanz

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2020)
The "Good Dyad": Examining the impact of personality and behavior on dyadic accuracy in first impressions of personality (2015)

Much research on the accuracy of interpersonal perception has focused on either the good judge– the individual who accurately perceives others’ personality (e.g., Letzring, 2008), or the good target– the individual whose personality is accurately perceived by others (e.g., Human & Biesanz, 2013). Despite there being reliable variance attributable to the dyad (Biesanz, 2010) previous work has largely overlooked the importance of the dyad and little is known as to why some dyads result in more accurate and more positive impressions than do others. To more fully understand the process of impression formation, it is imperative to investigate the characteristics of the good dyad. As such, this dissertation examines the mechanisms associated with changes in dyadic accuracy in first impressions of personality. In order to understand the behaviors and characteristics associated with dyadic accuracy, 77 participants were videotaped engaging in a total of 437 unstructured 3-minute interactions with another previously unacquainted participant. Raters then coded participants’ behavior and personality, as well as general aspects of the interaction. This dissertation investigates dyadic characteristics and processes associated with dyadic accuracy, how behavior changes across interactions, and the role of changes in behavior in understanding dyadic accuracy. Using the social accuracy model (SAM; Biesanz, 2010), the good dyad is considered in terms of two components of accuracy: distinctive accuracy, understanding an individual’s own unique patterning of traits, and normative accuracy, viewing an individually positively and as similar to the average person. For distinctive accuracy, stable characteristics of the individuals in the dyad impacted the degree to which targets were viewed in line with their own unique traits. Further, between-person differences in behavior generally moderated the impact of within-person changes in behavior on distinctive accuracy. For normative accuracy, the quality of the interaction, interpersonal attraction, and engagement impacted the positivity impressions. Additionally, changes in behavior mediated the impact of changes in dyadic characteristics (e.g., engagement) on normative accuracy. In sum, examining dyadic characteristics and processes, as well as behavior allows greater insight into the process of impression formation by looking beyond stable individual differences and considering variability across dyadic interactions.

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To thine own self be true: The links between psychological adjustment and expressive accuracy (2013)

Well-adjusted, happy people appear to be judgeable: their personalities tend to be seen more accurately than the personalities of less adjusted individuals (Colvin, 1993a, 1993b). The mechanisms behind this effect, however, are not well understood. One possibility is that well-adjusted individuals are not more judgeable at all; instead, they may have greater self-knowledge that makes them appear to be more easily understood. Studies 1 and 2 address this question by utilizing trait observability to disentangle self-knowledge from judgeability. Across these two round-robin studies of new acquaintances, well-adjusted individuals were seen with greater distinctive self-other agreement, but more so on low rather than highly observable traits. Thus, well-adjusted individuals provide new acquaintances with greater information regarding their less observable traits, enhancing others’ knowledge and thus distinctive self-other agreement. In sum, these studies indicate that well-adjusted individuals are indeed more judgeable. But how does adjustment facilitate judgeability? Across two video perceptions studies (Studies 3 and 4), I examined several potential mechanisms through which adjustment could promote judgeability at three stages of the Realistic Accuracy Model (RAM; Funder, 1995): 1) cue relevance, 2) cue availability, and 3) cue detection. In both studies, well-adjusted individuals were more judgeable because they provided others with more relevant cues: specifically, well-adjusted individuals behaved more in line with their distinctive personalities, which in turn led them to be seen more accurately. In contrast, neither cue availability nor detection could sufficiently account for the link between adjustment and judgeability. In sum, well-adjusted individuals are more judgeable because to their own selves, they are true.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Knowing versus liking : separating normative knowledge from evaluation in impressions (2011)

Accurately perceiving the personality of the average person corresponds broadly with stereotype accuracy – the generalizability of one’s impressions to other individuals. Previous research has demonstrated that the normative personality profile is highly socially desirable (Borkenau & Zaltauskas, 2009; Wood, Gosling & Potter, 2007). Due to the highly evaluative nature of the normative personality profile, individual differences in perceiving others either more or less positively – the halo effect – is often considered an evaluative artifact that is either statistically removed or minimized through item selection. However, what if individual differences in normative judgments reflect not just evaluative tendencies but also individual differences in generalized knowledge? In Study 1, 1027 participants watched video clips and rated the personality of targets using the Big Five Inventory (BFI; John & Srivastava, 1999) and also completed personality self reports. Using the average self-reports and the social desirability of the personality items (Paulhus, 2009) to predict impressions, we find that despite a high correlation between the normative profile and social desirability, the two independently predict ratings of others. Further, in Study 2 using a modified Q-sort, perceivers (Sample 1 N = 77, Sample 2 N = 88, Sample 3 N = 62) sorted an abbreviated 24-item version of the BFI (John & Srivastava, 1999) describing the average person’s personality. On average, perceivers had accurate knowledge of the average individual’s personality. Additionally, perceivers with greater accuracy in describing the average person rated the personality of ten videotaped targets or the personality of other participants in the round-robin more normatively. This strongly suggests that individual differences in normative judgments are not simply evaluative, but also include a component of knowledge regarding the average personality. Further, consistent with these effects representing separate constructs, well-adjusted individuals achieve greater levels of normative accuracy by having greater normative knowledge, while perceivers who explicitly evaluate others more positively achieve greater normative accuracy by rating others in a more socially desirable manner.

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