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We Are What We Repeatedly Do—But in What Context? The Role of Situational Factors in Assessing Personality via Nonverbal Behavior

Klafehn, Jennifer; Kell, Harrison; Andrews, Jessica J.; Barnwell, Patrick; Khan, Saad
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Situational Tests, Nonverbal Communication, Personality Assessment, High Stakes Testing, Skills Assessment, Noncognitive Assessment, Sociometers


This discussion is dovetailed by a review of research from the nonverbal assessment and interpersonal task literatures, as well as a synthesis of these literatures to highlight the degree to which situational factors (as manifested through different tasks) influence the assessment of personality via nonverbal behavior. Additionally, the potential value of using noninvasive tools, such as the sociometer, to collect nonverbal behavioral data during these tasks is discussed. The report concludes with a brief commentary on the feasibility of using nonverbal methods to assess noncognitive skills, with a specific focus on the extent to which structuring the context to elicit certain behaviors may influence the validity and robustness of nonverbal responses as a measurement source.

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