Consensus and uniqueness in the perception of men and women in general and in particular

Date of Completion

January 1999


Psychology, Social




Impressions that perceivers' form of others are rich and complex, including a variety of information such as personal attributes of the person, behavior and causal reasoning that explains why that person is the way he or she is. Contemporary impression formation theories have fallen short in their ability to capture the nature of impressions, often characterizing them as unidimensional and static, when they are multidimensional and dynamic (Park, 1986). Park commenced a research program, rooted in Asch's (1946) Gestalt psychology, which reveals the vividness of perceivers' impressions. In particular, Park proposed an impression formation process whereby perceivers form person models of others, describing what the person is like and why. Perceivers sharing a similar model of a person also view them similarly on trait ratings and affect. ^ Three studies were conducted that build on Park's work, using more naturalistic targets. The structure of person models was examined, along with the content of person models. Results demonstrated that person models are not only valid across groups of perceivers, but also that masculinity and femininity, perceived physical attractiveness and affect are important aspects of person models. The significant relationship between person models, perceived physical attractiveness and liking have implications for the person model formulation process. ^ This investigation also considered one potential factor influencing the process of forming person models. As models were related to masculinity and femininity, perceivers' endorsement of gender trait stereotypes or gender role attitudes should predict a stereotypic view of the person. Before the role of stereotyping could be understood, it was critical to investigate the construct validity of the multidimensional gender belief system. The validity of gender beliefs was affirmed by comparing beliefs and attitudes across four samples of perceivers. Results indicated that gender trait stereotypes are related, but distinct from gender role attitudes. In spite of the validity of gender beliefs and the importance of masculinity and femininity to person models, individual differences in gender beliefs were not systematically associated with person models. Implications for impression formation theories were considered. ^