Philosophical Topics

Volume 44, Issue 2, Fall 2016

New Directions in the Philosophy of Perception

Berit Brogaard
Pages 83-103

Perceptual Appearances of Personality

Perceptual appearances of personality can be highly inaccurate, for example, when they rely on race, masculinity, and attractiveness, factors that have little to do with personality, as well as when they are the result of perceiver effects, such as an idiosyncratic tendency to view others negatively. This raises the question of whether these types of appearances can provide immediate justification for our judgments about personality. I argue that there are three reasons that we should think that they can. (i) The inaccuracy of these types of appearances is not nearly as widespread as it may initially seem. Even thin-slicing in zero-acquaintance conditions seems to reliably track many personality traits. (ii) The thought that perceptual appearances of personality can justify our beliefs only in conjunction with background information rests on a failure to acknowledge the existence of genuine high-level perceptual appearances of personality. (iii) Perceiver effect cases are not unlike cases in which we have inaccurate low-level perceptual appearances in unfavorable perceptual conditions.

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