Accuracy and Bias in Perception of Distress Level and Distress Change Among Same-Sex College Student Roommate Dyads

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Abstract

University students often experience high levels of stress and, in some cases, the stress leads to tragic outcomes. An important question is whether roommates can perceive the level and change in distress in their peers. We examined self- and other-reports of 187 same-sex undergraduate dyads at two times in a spring semester. Using the truth and bias model, we found that roommates tended to underestimate their partner’s distress at both time points, and that ratings were equally influenced by truth and self-focus bias forces. For change, however, there was no evidence of directional (average) bias, and perceived change was only significantly related to the truth force. There were no consistent moderation effects by closeness or gender. These findings are interpreted in the context of person perception theory and the practical need for early warning about extreme distress in college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-913
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume44
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

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Keywords

  • affect monitoring
  • distress change
  • person perception
  • roommate relationships
  • truth and bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "University students often experience high levels of stress and, in some cases, the stress leads to tragic outcomes. An important question is whether roommates can perceive the level and change in distress in their peers. We examined self- and other-reports of 187 same-sex undergraduate dyads at two times in a spring semester. Using the truth and bias model, we found that roommates tended to underestimate their partner’s distress at both time points, and that ratings were equally influenced by truth and self-focus bias forces. For change, however, there was no evidence of directional (average) bias, and perceived change was only significantly related to the truth force. There were no consistent moderation effects by closeness or gender. These findings are interpreted in the context of person perception theory and the practical need for early warning about extreme distress in college students.",
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