Do We Know Who Values Us? Dyadic Meta-Accuracy in the Perception of Professional Relationships

8 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2009

See all articles by Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin School of Business

Noah Eisenkraft

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Waverly W. Ding

University of Maryland - R.H. Smith School of Business

Date Written: March 4, 2009

Abstract

People often need to know what others think of them - whom do we approach to collaborate, to invite out, or to seek assistance? Research on meta-perceptions shows strong evidence for generalized meta-accuracy - knowing whether the rest of the world tends to see us, e.g., as extroverted or intelligent - but less for dyadic meta-accuracy - knowing how different people view us differently. In meta-judgments of individual traits and abilities, people generally assume they make the same impression on all interaction partners, rather than differentiating their unique impressions on each person. However, for more relational constructs such as friendship, liking, humor, considerateness, and interestingness, perceivers can typically differentiate others' unique evaluations. Previous theories argued that dyadic meta-accuracy resulted by 'accident' merely from the appropriate use of heuristics. In particular, people believe their evaluations will be reciprocated by others and, when this assumption is valid, they can introspect about their opinions of others to infer others' likely opinions of them. Our study is the first to show, provocatively, that presuming reciprocity does not entirely account for dyadic accuracy. This leaves open another theoretical mechanism for achieving accuracy - namely, that individuals are also able to read cues in their social landscape in order to judge the unique impressions that they make on others. We believe that prior work may have sounded the 'death knell' too early on dyadic meta-accuracy, and therefore on attempts to explain the relationship-relevant cues that people use to attain it. This finding has important implications by suggesting people have more insight into their own relationships than previously believed. Because dyadic meta-accuracy can help us know which relationships to pursue and which to avoid, these results have important implications for the formation of social networks.

Keywords: accuracy, networks, relationships

Suggested Citation

Elfenbein, Hillary Anger and Eisenkraft, Noah and Ding, Waverly W., Do We Know Who Values Us? Dyadic Meta-Accuracy in the Perception of Professional Relationships (March 4, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1353302 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1353302

Hillary Anger Elfenbein (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin School of Business ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Noah Eisenkraft

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Waverly W. Ding

University of Maryland - R.H. Smith School of Business ( email )

United States
301-405-1381 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/management/faculty/ding.aspx

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