Toward a further understanding of the intuitive personologist: Some preliminary evidence for the dialectical quality of subjective personality impressions


  • The authors wish to thank William Chaplin, Gerald L. Clore, Thomas K. Srull, and Robert S. Wyer for their critical comments on an earlier version of this article. A portion of this work was completed while the third author was supported by Fellowship Number 2 T32 MH 14257-06 from the Public Health Service.

Requests for reprints and correspondence regarding this article should be sent to James T. Lamiell, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 20057.


Despite significant advances over the past three decades in our understanding of the implicit personality theorist, some important questions remain, particularly as regards the nature of the underlying reasoning process by which subjectively meaningful personality impressions are formulated and expressed. The present article seeks to address this issue, with particular attention being given to the distinction between demonstrative and dialectical reasoning. Preliminary empirical evidence is offered to suggest that, at least under certain conditions, lay persons formulate and express subjective personality impressions on the basis of a reasoning process that is essentially dialectical in nature. Some major implications of this point of view for the study of the intuitive personologist are discussed. The limitations of the evidence presented, and the need for further research are also noted.