Taylor Elam, a first year Ph.D. Student, recently gave a presentation on her research proposal titled, “I’ll Believe it When I See it: Behavior Change and Person Perception”. This project focuses on how and when people change their perceptions of others.
Taylor explains that people can change by changing their habits, behaviors, attitudes, outlook, verbal and/or physical responses, and most recently discovered, personality. Studies so far have focused on how people change through therapy, how impressions are made and how accurate they are, and how to help people change. Elam saw a need for research that studies when we change our perceptions of others whether the perception is accurate or not.
Elam hypothesized that those who watch a video describing a person’s behavior will change their perception of the person sooner than those who read the vignettes. She aimed to explore the influence of participant characteristics, mood, and interpersonal accuracy on person perception change. The study recruited 300 college students 18+, 100 in each group, for an online survey with 4 time points.
The study would include a person named Taylor described in differing settings and behaviors. For example one setting would be:
“Taylor walks into class, smiling. She shakes hands with teachers and greets her classmates. She sits straight up while watching the lecture. She laughs at the jokes during the presentation. “
“Taylor drives to work listening to upbeat music. “
“Taylor cries at home. Her house is messier because she hasn’t cleaned. She slams her backpack down and goes straight to sleep. “
Other settings would switch out the behaviors with sad connotations with happy behaviors. Throughout the 4 time points, participants would experience differing settings of the same story about Taylor through a video, vignette, or a combination of both. Participants would then complete the survey reporting their demographics, psychological status, adversity experience, personality, mood, emotional intelligence, and empathy. They would then complete the task to report their perception of Taylor based off the video or vignettes.
This study called for a repeated measures design with between and within groups. Data will be analyzed using correlation and regression as well as repeated measures ANOVA. Limitations include the potential need for 5 time points to show stability and consistency, the lack of person-memory concept, lack of subject background information, demographics, and previous behaviors.
Taylor did an excellent job designing and presenting her research proposal, and we can’t wait to follow her through this process!