HOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR OWN PERSONALITY? And how do others perceive you? These are the kinds of weighty questions that Dr. Simine Vazire and her colleagues investigate at the Personality and Self-Knowledge Lab at UC Davis, where she is the director. We talked recently with Vazire, an associate professor in the department of psychology, to learn more about how research is conducted at the lab, whether we are good judges of our own personality traits, and why people who know they are arrogant keep behaving that way.
How do you research people’s perception of their own personality?
Our research participants, usually college students, fill out personality questionnaires so that we get a picture of what they think they are like. We ask them things like how talkative are you? How kind are you? We also ask them to nominate people who know them well—roommates, friends, parents, dating partners, co-workers—to fill out a questionnaire about their personality. We also have subjects wear a recorder that records 30-second audio snippets of whatever they’re doing during their day. That gives us the ability to compare what people say they’re like to what their friends and family say they’re like to how they actually behave in their everyday life.
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