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Ability to Predict Personal Behaviors

Rimoldi, H. J. A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Behavior, Empathy, Personality Measures, Prediction


This article is concerned with the study of the ability to judge people or to predict their behavior, and it should be considered as a purely exploratory approach to the problem. Lately, U. Bronfenbrenner and P. Dempsey have worked on the related concept of social sensitivity, which they have defined as the "accuracy with which persons could estimate (or preferably from our point of view, 'respond differentially' to) behavior assumed to reflect the psychological state of another". The ability to judge people has been used in many studies--ranking, ratings, etc.--but the validity of the procedure is often cause for controversy. This is partly due to our ignorance concerning the dynamics involved in the process. As far as theoretical formulations are concerned, two main theories have been used in trying to explain the psychological process; namely, the inference and the intuitive theories (2). Concepts like empathy, insight, etc., have been employed in connection with these studies, but in view of their connotations it is preferred to avoid their use. Expressions like social sensitivity, or ability to judge others, of ability to predict behavior of others, are to be preferred. The purposes of this pilot study were twofold: (a) to investigate certain methodological and scoring problems, and (b) to investigate some hypotheses related to the process of predicting behavior.

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