Components and Processes
Social perception in general, and accuracy in particular, can be viewed as being composed of different components. Several different componential approaches to accuracy (Cronbach’s , Kenny’s , and Judd & Park’s ) are described, reviewed, and critically evaluated. For example, if Roberto accurately predicts the weather to be warm and sunny tomorrow, is that because he is an inveterate optimist who usually predicts good things, because he usually predicts the weather in particular to be nice, or because he has based his prediction for tomorrow on the latest and most valid in meteorological tools? Each of these reasons can be viewed as a “component” (one component is his tendency to predict good things, another is his tendency to predict uniquely good weather, the third is his knowledge of tomorrow’s weather in particular). This chapter concludes that although componential approaches provide important and useful information about the processes of social judgment and sources of accuracy and inaccuracy, the claim that one “must” assess components in order to assess accuracy—often made by advocates of componential approaches—is not justified. Several productive and instructive theoretical perspectives on accuracy that are not explicitly componential are reviewed. Although they do not “conflict” with componential approaches, they do demonstrate that one can productively study accuracy without performing an explicitly componential analysis. These include correlational approaches to accuracy (which include an instructive subsection emphasizing the similarities of assessing social perceptual accuracy to those of assessing construct validity in the social sciences), Brunswik’s Lens Model, Funder’s Realistic Accuracy Model, and Dawes’ Improper Linear Models. Nonetheless, this chapter also concludes that understanding componential approaches also contributes to a greater understanding of results even obtained from approaches that do not specifically perform componential analyses.
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