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Making sense of other people’s encounters: Towards an Integrative Model of Relational Impression Formation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-256
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jan 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Dec 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2019
DatePublished (current) - 15 Jun 2019


Forming rapid impressions of other people’s social relations or obligations upon observing their interpersonal encounters from a third-person perspective is a ubiquitous activity of daily life. The psychological properties of this activity, however, remain poorly understood. Above all, it remains to be determined how accurate, consensual, and functional so-called encounter-based impressions can be. To inspire future research on these topics, the current article proposes a new conceptual framework referred to as the Integrative Model of Relational Impression Formation (IMRIF). This model brings together different strands of empirical investigation, and extends traditional impression formation theories, in order to argue that the psychological properties of encounter-based impressions are co-determined by four main attributes, namely content attributes, target attributes, perceiver attributes, and context attributes. Implications and limitations of the IMRIF are discussed with the aim of highlighting what is, and what is not yet, known about watching and judging other people’s encounters.

    Structured keywords

  • Social Cognition
  • Cognitive Science

    Research areas

  • person perception, social cognition, social interaction, social neuroscience, third-person perspective

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    Licence: CC BY


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