Perceived pleasantness : exploration of individual differences in the interpretation of social communication
In a series of experimental investigations using videotaped stimulus materials, individuals evaluated pieces of social behaviour for 'pleasantness'. Some of the pieces of social behaviour were consistently pleasant, others were consistently unpleasant and some were inconsistent (ie. pleasant verbally and unpleasant nonverbally, and vice versa.) Evaluations of pleasantness proved to be very consistent across both individuals and experiments and appeared unaffected by variations in measured personality traits, with the sole exception of Machiavellianism (Mach.) High-Machs tended to give more positive pleasantness judgements. Two other factors caused slight but consistent variations In pleasantness judgements. Females were found to exhibit a tendency to give more positive judgements than males. Older individuals showed the same tendency, regardless of sex. In some experiments, Mach. and sex of individual were found to interact: female high-Machs tended to give more positive evaluations than all other individuals. Taking these factors into account, little remaining variation is left in the judgements of pleasantness; so little that it was hypothesized that the process of judging pleasantness is supra-personal and likely to be culturally determined.