Perceiver effects in first impressions reflect generalized stereotypes: Evidence of consistency across time, groups, and contexts


In interpersonal perception, perceivers’ tendencies for judging the average target (perceiver effects) are commonly assumed to reflect generalized stereotypes about “the other.” This is empirically supported by findings of consistent rank-orders of perceiver effects across measurement occasions, but previous studies could not rule out important alternative explanations for consistency. Here, we present a strict test of the generalized stereotype account in two studies (ns 146 and 295) in which participants provided mutual impressions in distinct, uniquely composed groups. Results reveal that perceiver effects are quite consistent on the level of global evaluation and acquiescence but less consistent on the level of specific trait- or item-content. The finding that perceivers who saw others in globally positive or negative ways in one situation also saw other targets in similar ways in entirely different situations across time, groups, and contexts is strong evidence for the generalized stereotype account and has vital implications.

Social Psychological and Personality Science, 13(7), 1138–1150