Conception of Interpersonal Trait and Action Categories


  • The study was supported by a grant to the first author from the Swedish Council for Research in Humanities and Social Sciences and FOA Council for Defense Research Dr Smari is now at the Department of Clinical Psychology, University Hospital, Iceland

Requests for reprints should be sent to Lars Nystedt, Department of Psychology, University of Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden


ABSTRACT Kim and Rosenberg (1980) have found that the evaluative dimension is the only one of three semantic differential factors that is generally present in implicit personality theories at the individual level In the present study it is argued that this might be less true for cognitive elements at levels of abstraction lower than trait terms One group of subjects rated the likelihood of co-occurrence of trait terms, a second group rated the likelihood of co-occurrence of verbal descriptions of action categories, and two other groups rated traits and action categories respectively on nine semantic differential scales Co-occurrence matrices were analyzed at the individual level and ratings of scales from each semantic dimension were projected into the resultant spatial structures The multiple correlation (MR) coefficients for each scale and individual were calculated In line with Kim and Rosenberg's findings the MR's for the evaluative scale were consistently high across individuals for both traits and action categories, whereas for activity and dominance scales they varied greatly There was, however, a significant tendency for evaluation to show greater dominance over the other aspects for traits than for action categories Implications of the study are discussed in terms of individual level of cognitive functioning and the domain specificity of social information processing