Trait Attributes as On-Line Organizers in Person Impressions
Alternatively, Asch suggested that the process might proceed as one of hypothesis testing. Following just one or two behaviors related to a particular trait dimension, the perceiver forms the hypothesis that the trait characterizes the target. Subsequent behaviors are used to either strengthen or disprove the hypothesis. This process is basically one of on-line impression formation. As each new bit of information is received the perceiver uses it to modify the existing judgment about the person. According to this model, inferences from negative behaviors to negative traits occur more quickly than inferences from positive behaviors both because negative behaviors are particularly salient and likely to be noticed, and perhaps because the criterion for inferring negative traits may be lower. Most importantly, because information is used to update the impression as it is received, rather than depending on what is stored in memory, the particular behaviors recalled need bear little or no resemblance to an inference based on these.