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Lay Psychology and the Social Value of Persons



Personality traits are basic constructs of lay psychology. Unlike the traditional view in which traits are considered as descriptive tools, we argue that the most frequent traits are evaluative criteria, that is, they do not point out what people are, but what people are socially worth. First, we intend to report on various studies showing that traits can be viewed as generalizations of affordances in social relations: traits supply information not only on what people are doing, but also, and several times more, on what is possible to do with people. Second, we challenge the dominant view underlying social judgments by showing that the two traditional factors can be viewed as aspects of the social value of persons. We called them social desirability and social utility. We shall show that the two dimensions intervene in situations in which social value of the person is engaged. To finish, we shall address the link between these dimensions with some aspects of individualism.