Riverside Accuracy Project

Data Set


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In an effort to address many issues involved in the areas of personality/social psychology and person perception, a great amount of data was collected through the Riverside Accuracy Project (RAP) over two years (1992-1993). There are approximately 180 subjects (all were undergraduates at UCR) who were the primary focus of investigation.

One unfortunate characteristic of much research in personality and social psychology is the limited kinds of data that are typically collected. Many studies in personality psychology only collect one kind of data, which is self-report descriptions of a person's personality. For example, a researcher may have a sample of subjects complete a shyness questionnaire and a depression questionnaire about themselves. Further, many social psychology studies will observe subjects in several situations and investigate one or two ways in which behavior differs between the situations, ignoring any differences between individual people in the way they behave. So, for example, a social psychologist makes one group of people anxious and leaves one group non-anxious, then observes which of two rooms the members of each group prefer to wait in. This limit in the range of data collected is partly due to restrictions in the resources (i.e., money) that are made available to psychologists

One of the unique aspects of the RAP data set is the diversity of the kinds of data that were collected about the 180 focal, or "target" subjects. The RAP data set consists of the typical personality and social psychology data (self-report questionnaires, and some behavioral observation), but includes many versions of each and, importantly, many other kinds of data as well. The purpose of this worksheet is to provide a brief description of the data available in the Riverside Accuracy Project data set.

There are several kinds of data currently available:



Target subjects came to the lab and completed many personality ratings of themselves. This kind of data provides information about how the target subjects view themselves.



Several people who knew the target subjects were recruited to provide personality descriptions about the targets. There were three main groups of "informants" for each of the targets: 1) two friends from college, 2) two friends from home, and 3) parents. This kind of data is important because it shows how the targets are viewed by some of the most important people in their social worlds. Would you like to know if your parents describe you as "impulsive" or "restrained," or if your roommate thinks that you're "neurotic" or "emotionally stable"?
College Friends
Hometown Friends
In addition to these informants who knew the targets well, another group of informants provided personality descriptions of the targets after watching videotapes of the target subjects interacting with an opposite-sex stranger. These informants did not have any previous experience with the targets and thus only knew them from the videotapes. What do other people think of you when they see you meet someone new? 
Stranger Ratings
Each of the 180 target subjects participated in three social interactions with an opposite-sex stranger. The interactions were videotaped (the targets were aware of the videotaping, there was no deception), and the videotapes have been coded, which provides information on how the subjects acted in the situations. The target's AND the partner's behaviors were coded, so we can describe both people's behavior. How do you act when you just meet someone of the opposite sex? How do people act when they first meet you?
The three situations took place in the lab and each took about five minutes. The first situation was an "unstructured" interaction in which the two people sat on a couch and talked about whatever they wanted. The second interaction was a "cooperative" interaction in which the pair worked together to assemble a tinker-toy. The final interaction was competitive - the partners played the game "Simon" against each other for money.
The behavior of both people in the interactions was coded using the Behavioral Q-sort (BQ; Funder, Furr, & Colvin). The BQ provides 64 descriptors of behaviors relevant to typical social interactions (e.g., "Seems to like partner," "Expresses criticism," & "Behaves in a fearful or timid manner"). Thus, each target and each partner have 64 behavioral ratings for 3 individual sessions, and a 64-item "averaged" behavioral description (each item was averaged across the three sessions).
In addition to the behavioral observations of the interactions, several other ratings related to what the partners thought of each other and how much they liked each other and the interaction were associated with the interactions. The partners rated each other on:
Some basic demographic ratings were collected for the target subjects (age, gender, parents' marital status, how often he/she sees mom & dad, etc.)
Each target subject described the personality of one of the college friends who came to the lab to provide personality descriptions of the target.
Both college friends also completed personality questionnaires about themselves.



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