Person Perception in the College Classroom: Accounting for Taste in Students' Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness


Jennifer Gross, Department of Psychology, One Campus Drive, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI 49401. E-mail:


An important applied aspect of person perception occurs when college students evaluate their professors' teaching. Student evaluations of teaching typically are conceptualized as reflecting the characteristics of professors. Yet, this view overlooks the possibility that teaching evaluations also reflect the personal tastes of students, manifested as systematic disagreement among students. Large effects of personal tastes are routinely observed in person perception research and, therefore, should be expected in students' evaluations of teaching. This article describes 3 studies in which students evaluated the same professors' teaching effectiveness. In each study, students' evaluations were strongly influenced by their personal tastes regarding teaching. Moreover, personal tastes in teaching were related in meaningful ways to students' positive affect and memory for lectures.