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Concept: Judgment


Judging others' personalities is an essential skill in successful social living, as personality is a key driver behind people’s interactions, behaviors, and emotions. Although accurate personality judgments stem from social-cognitive skills, developments in machine learning show that computer models can also make valid judgments. This study compares the accuracy of human and computer-based personality judgments, using a sample of 86,220 volunteers who completed a 100-item personality questionnaire. We show that (i) computer predictions based on a generic digital footprint (Facebook Likes) are more accurate (r = 0.56) than those made by the participants' Facebook friends using a personality questionnaire (r = 0.49); (ii) computer models show higher interjudge agreement; and (iii) computer personality judgments have higher external validity when predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes, and physical health; for some outcomes, they even outperform the self-rated personality scores. Computers outpacing humans in personality judgment presents significant opportunities and challenges in the areas of psychological assessment, marketing, and privacy.

Concepts: Emotion, Skill, Computer, Human, Personality psychology, Judgment, Learning, Psychology


Social judgments are made on the basis of both visual and auditory information, with consequential implications for our decisions. To examine the impact of visual information on expert judgment and its predictive validity for performance outcomes, this set of seven experiments in the domain of music offers a conservative test of the relative influence of vision versus audition. People consistently report that sound is the most important source of information in evaluating performance in music. However, the findings demonstrate that people actually depend primarily on visual information when making judgments about music performance. People reliably select the actual winners of live music competitions based on silent video recordings, but neither musical novices nor professional musicians were able to identify the winners based on sound recordings or recordings with both video and sound. The results highlight our natural, automatic, and nonconscious dependence on visual cues. The dominance of visual information emerges to the degree that it is overweighted relative to auditory information, even when sound is consciously valued as the core domain content.

Concepts: Performing arts, Jazz in the Domain, Psychometrics, Concert, Musical instrument, Judgment, Performance, Music


The aim was to determine if bracket prescription has any effect on the subjective outcome of pre-adjusted edgewise treatment as judged by professionals. This retrospective observational assessment study was undertaken in the Orthodontic Department of the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Sheffield, UK. Forty sets of post-treatment study models from patients treated using a pre-adjusted edgewise appliance (20 Roth and 20 MBT) were selected. The models were masked and shown in a random order to nine experienced orthodontic clinicians, who were asked to assess the quality of the outcome, using a pre-piloted questionnaire. The principal outcome measure was the Incisor and Canine Aesthetic Torque and Tip (ICATT) score for each of the 40 post-treatment models carried out by the nine judges. A two-way analysis of variance was undertaken with the dependent variable, total ICATT score and independent variables, Bracket prescription (Roth or MBT) and Assessor. There were statistically significant differences between the subjective assessments of the nine judges (P<0.001), but there was no statistically significant difference between the two bracket prescriptions (P = 0.900). The best agreement between a clinician's judgment of prescription used and the actual prescription was fair (kappa statistic 0.25; CI -0.05 to 0.55). The ability to determine which bracket prescription was used was no better than chance for the majority of clinicians. Bracket prescription had no effect on the subjective aesthetic judgments of post-treatment study models made by nine experienced orthodontists.

Concepts: Dentistry, Hospital, Evaluation, Assessment, Analysis of variance, Judgment, Statistics, Statistical significance


In two studies, 5- and 6-year-old children were questioned about the status of the protagonist embedded in three different types of stories. In realistic stories that only included ordinary events, all children, irrespective of family background and schooling, claimed that the protagonist was a real person. In religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention, claims about the status of the protagonist varied sharply with exposure to religion. Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional. Children’s upbringing was also related to their judgment about the protagonist in fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic (Study 1) or without reference to magic (Study 2). Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional. The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.

Concepts: Character, Philosophy, Secularity, Short story, Truth, Judgment, Reality, Religion


Intent and mitigating circumstances play a central role in moral and legal assessments in large-scale industrialized societies. Although these features of moral assessment are widely assumed to be universal, to date, they have only been studied in a narrow range of societies. We show that there is substantial cross-cultural variation among eight traditional small-scale societies (ranging from hunter-gatherer to pastoralist to horticulturalist) and two Western societies (one urban, one rural) in the extent to which intent and mitigating circumstances influence moral judgments. Although participants in all societies took such factors into account to some degree, they did so to very different extents, varying in both the types of considerations taken into account and the types of violations to which such considerations were applied. The particular patterns of assessment characteristic of large-scale industrialized societies may thus reflect relatively recently culturally evolved norms rather than inherent features of human moral judgment.

Concepts: Assessment, Extent, Judgment, Central Europe, Morality, Western world, Sociology, Western culture


Groups of individuals can sometimes make more accurate judgments than the average individual could make alone. We tested whether this group advantage extends to lie detection, an exceptionally challenging judgment with accuracy rates rarely exceeding chance. In four experiments, we find that groups are consistently more accurate than individuals in distinguishing truths from lies, an effect that comes primarily from an increased ability to correctly identify when a person is lying. These experiments demonstrate that the group advantage in lie detection comes through the process of group discussion, and is not a product of aggregating individual opinions (a “wisdom-of-crowds” effect) or of altering response biases (such as reducing the “truth bias”). Interventions to improve lie detection typically focus on improving individual judgment, a costly and generally ineffective endeavor. Our findings suggest a cheap and simple synergistic approach of enabling group discussion before rendering a judgment.

Concepts: Judgment, Better, Person, Individual, Improve, Critical thinking, Lie


Previous research has shown that victims display characteristic body language, specifically in their walking style (Grayson & Stein, 1981). Individuals scoring higher on the interpersonal/affective aspects of psychopathy (Factor 1) are more accurate at judging victim vulnerability simply from viewing targets walking (Wheeler, Book, & Costello, 2009). The present study examines the relation between psychopathy and accuracy in assessing victim vulnerability in a sample of inmates from a maximum security penitentiary in Ontario, Canada. Forty-seven inmates viewed short video clips of targets walking and judged how vulnerable each target was to victimization. Higher Factor 1 psychopathy scores (as measured by the PCL-R; Hare 2003) were positively related to accuracy in judging victim vulnerability. Contrary to research with noninstitutional participants (Wheeler et al., 2009), inmates higher on Factor 1 of psychopathy were more likely to rationalize their vulnerability judgments by mentioning the victim’s gait. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Concepts: Psychopathy, Concepts in aesthetics, Hare Psychopathy Checklist, Video clip, Choice, Walking, Judgment, Victim


For audiovisual sensory events, sound arrives with a delay relative to light that increases with event distance. It is unknown, however, whether humans can use these ubiquitous sound delays as an information source for distance computation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that audiovisual delays can both bias and improve human perceptual distance discrimination, such that visual stimuli paired with auditory delays are perceived as more distant and are thereby an ordinal distance cue. In two experiments, participants judged the relative distance of two repetitively displayed three-dimensional dot clusters, both presented with sounds of varying delays. In the first experiment, dot clusters presented with a sound delay were judged to be more distant than dot clusters paired with equivalent sound leads. In the second experiment, we confirmed that the presence of a sound delay was sufficient to cause stimuli to appear as more distant. Additionally, we found that ecologically congruent pairing of more distant events with a sound delay resulted in an increase in the precision of distance judgments. A control experiment determined that the sound delay duration influencing these distance judgments was not detectable, thereby eliminating decision-level influence. In sum, we present evidence that audiovisual delays can be an ordinal cue to visual distance.

Concepts: Perception, Judgment, Hypothesis, Causality, Scientific method, Concepts in aesthetics, Sense, Experiment


We form first impressions of many traits based on very short interactions. This study examines whether typical adults judge children with high-functioning autism to be more socially awkward than their typically developing peers based on very brief exposure to still images, audio-visual, video-only, or audio-only information. We used video and audio recordings of children with and without high-functioning autism captured during a story-retelling task. Typically developing adults were presented with 1 s and 3 s clips of these children, as well as still images, and asked to judge whether the person in the clip was socially awkward. Our findings show that participants who are naïve to diagnostic differences between the children in the clips judged children with high-functioning autism to be socially awkward at a significantly higher rate than their typically developing peers. These results remain consistent for exposures as short as 1 s to visual and/or auditory information, as well as for still images. These data suggest that typical adults use subtle nonverbal and non-linguistic cues produced by children with high-functioning autism to form rapid judgments of social awkwardness with the potential for significant repercussions in social interactions.

Concepts: Video clip, Judge, Social, Clip, Judgment, Autism, Sociology, Asperger syndrome


People often judge it unacceptable to directly harm a person, even when this is necessary to produce an overall positive outcome, such as saving five other lives. We demonstrate that similar judgments arise when people consider damage to owned objects. In two experiments, participants considered dilemmas where saving five inanimate objects required destroying one. Participants judged this unacceptable when it required violating another’s ownership rights, but not otherwise. They also judged that sacrificing another’s object was less acceptable as a means than as a side-effect; judgments did not depend on whether property damage involved personal force. These findings inform theories of moral decision-making. They show that utilitarian judgment can be decreased without physical harm to persons, and without personal force. The findings also show that the distinction between means and side-effects influences the acceptability of damaging objects, and that ownership impacts utilitarian moral judgment.

Concepts: Personality psychology, Ownership, Choice, Animal rights, People, Judgment, Person, Property