Alan Jay Fehr

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The purpose of this study was to further the concept of Association Bias, which is hypothesized to be a part of impression formation when only visual information is present. This is thought to reflect everyday impression formation better than impression formation generated from verbal information. Association b ; ^>s is defined as the influence on impression formation produced by an association to a specific individual that a subject has known. In essence, a novel person ray be expected to have the same personality characteristics as a person whom they look like.

A secondary purpose of this study was to introduce the Similarity Hypothesis, which states that persons similar in appearance are, expected to be' similar in personality characteristics.

Subjects rated target persons presented as photos on an adjective rating scale. Subjects were asked to associate target persons to persons they have known and these associated persons were rated on the adjective rating scale. The ratings of the associated persons were used to predict the target person ratings. 'The results were consistent with Association Bias--that, when meeting a new person who looks like someone already known, there is a tendency to expect the person to have the same personality characteristics as the person already known.

To test the Similarity Hypothesis, similar and dissimilar target persons were paired and compared. The results indicated that there were higher correlations for pairs predetermined to be similar than for pairs predetermined to be dissimilar. This was consistent with the Similarity Hypothesis.

Reliability of ratings was also measured by repeating the target person ratings and correlating the ratings. The reliability was found to be moderately low but statistically significant.