The road to the unconscious self not taken: Discrepancies between self- and observer-inferences about implicit dispositions from nonverbal behavioural cues



To what extent can individuals gain insight into their own or another person's implicit dispositions' We investigated whether self-perceivers versus neutral observers can detect implicit dispositions from nonverbal behavioural cues contained in video feedback (cue validity) and whether these cues are in turn used as a valid basis for explicit dispositional inferences (cue utilization). Across three studies in the domains of extraversion and anxiety we consistently obtained reliable cue validity and cue utilization for neutral observers but not for self-perceivers. An additional measure of state inferences in Study 3 showed that one reason for the lack of mediation in self-perceivers is their reluctance to use their state inferences as a basis for more general trait inferences. We conclude that people have a ‘blind spot’ with respect to the nonverbal behavioural manifestations of their unconscious selves, even though neutral observers may readily detect and utilize this information for dispositional inferences. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.