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Actions Speak Louder Than Words Essay

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Gauging and understanding someone’s personality when you first meet them may seem like a daunting thing to do for some people, especially when it feels like one wrong move could make it harder to get to know them. Many times, it also feels like one sitting isn’t enough to fully understand someone’s personality. Personality is a fluid aspect of our lives, something that is constantly changing and growing, but something that may not change is the methods you have in order to learn more about someone’s personality. Many people, myself included, may use the same techniques each time they meet someone new in order to dull down any nerves and make learning about someone new more exciting. Throughout this paper, I will briefly explain my methods when it comes to learning about someone’s personality, discuss what clues to personality I believe people rely on the most when doing so, along with explaining why discrepancies occur between certain types of data that these clues give us.

If I was to compare my methods of getting to know someone to the clues of personality, it heavily correlates to self-judgments or S data (Funder, 2016) since I tend to directly ask the person about themselves in order to get to know them more. When wanting to know more about the personality of the person next to me, I would usually start off by asking them questions about their interests. I wouldn’t ask anything that would be considered a “deep” question, at least not when I’m first getting to know them and who they are. But by sticking to more light-hearted questions like what their favorite show is, I might be able to find a common interest between us so that the conversation strays away from being awkward.

After asking the simple questions and finding a common interest, if there is an opportunity for me to ask a more thought-provoking question that’ll help me understand a little bit more about who they are as a person, I’ll take it in hopes of learning more about who they are rather than only learning about the things they like. For example, a question I like to ask is “What do you find beautiful in life?” I’ve found that whenever I ask this question, I learn a lot more about the person than I thought I would; many times, it ends up being something that they’re passionate about and it gives me a glimpse into what they value and cherish. As mentioned before, I use the same methods whenever meeting someone new. Not only does it make me feel less nervous as I don’t have to come up with too many new starting points, but I like hearing what people have to say to the same questions and understanding different points of view when discussing deeper topics.

After reading the chapter, the two clues to personality that people most likely will rely on when first getting to know someone and their personality are S and I data. These two clues involve either directly asking the person you are getting to know or asking someone that is acquainted and familiar with them to help you learn more about them (Funder, 2016). You don’t need to have a lab, conduct an experiment, or be a personality psychologist in order to obtain either set of data, you can simply gather it by talking with someone. With S and I data, some of the biggest advantages that they share with each other are that they give you a lot of information about someone and that some of the information is “true by definition” as Funder (2016, pg. 32) puts it. S and I data can be done anywhere by anyone, making them the easiest methods to access out of the four options when it comes to getting to know somebody.

To dive into each clue of personality in more detail, I will describe each clue while providing an example of each. To start off, S data are just self-judgments about the individual’s own personality and behavior (Funder, 2016). In order to obtain S data, you can directly ask the person, gaining important information because they can give you “complex aspects of character that no other data source could access” (Funder, 2016, pg. 26). If you were a psychologist, you would give the person a questionnaire where they rank themselves on a scale of 1-9 based on certain aspects of personality, or the questions could be more open-ended in order to get a view of what the person’s goals are. There isn’t any interpretation that needs to be done when collecting S data, the information gathered is what you intended to collect, giving the data face validity (Funder, 2016). An example of S data would be if I wanted to find out if someone is a good student, I could ask how well their grades are or how much time they spend studying.

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Data, on the other hand, are judgments made by acquaintances or as Funder (2016) calls them “informants” to gain knowledge about a person’s personality. The informants have to be well-acquainted with the individual, this is an important aspect of I data because it helps provide an accurate judgment of the individual being described. I data essentially works in the same way the S data do, where informants are asked the same questions and they rank the individual on a 9-point scale based on certain personality aspects (Funder, 2016). An example of data that I have experienced multiple times is when I’m meeting a friend of a friend for the first time, I ask a lot of questions in order to get a feel of who they are before meeting them. By doing so, not only do I learn just a little bit of their personality, I get a quick idea of how I should first act in order to make a good first impression and calm my nerves down.

However, there are moments when there are discrepancies in our data. Someone may describe themselves as a good listener while their acquaintances might actually say they’re just good at following along, showcasing a discrepancy between S and I data. Or someone may describe themselves as a generous person but then their behavior shows that they might have just acted generously after being told to, making this a discrepancy between S and B data, B data being behavioral observations (Funder, 2016).

There might be a discrepancy between these different types of data because of two reasons: they may not realize they behave a certain way, or they may not act the way they think they would in certain situations (Funder 2016). For example, if you asked someone what they would do if they saw a fight outbreak, they may respond that they would try and help stop it. But if the time arrives and they do witness a fight, they may remain a bystander and not do anything. Not done

When it comes to seeing discrepancies between S and I data and S and B data, I would tend to believe S data in both scenarios. I would believe S data more when it comes to picking between S and I data because S data is coming straight from the primary source. You are the only person who knows exactly what you’ve been through and how you felt during and after the situation. This can be linked to two of the advantages Funder (2016) discusses when listing S data’s advantages: since you are present throughout every situation in your life, you have an abundance of information to share. and you are the only person with access to all your intentions and feelings. While asking a friend to describe you may seem more accurate than describing yourself to some, all in all, you know yourself best.

Although I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words, if having to decide whether to believe S or B data, I would go with believing S data as well. While getting to know someone, their words are the truest form of judgment you have because you haven’t been around them long enough to know if they are behaving as they normally would. I tend to see the best in others and hope that they are being honest with me, so I believe what they say until they may prove to me otherwise. The main reason I wouldn’t believe B data is due to a point that Funder (2016) made when discussing the advantages and disadvantages of B data: you still have to decide which behaviors to observe and interpret them. Another issue is that not everyone interprets things the same way either. For example, something that happened in my life recently was that my roommate was telling me about a boy that she was talking to, saying how he’d go to the library with her and buy her something at the café. She interpreted his actions as just him being nice, while I interpreted it thinking that he likes her.  

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words Essay. (2023, October 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
“Actions Speak Louder Than Words Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Oct. 2023,
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Actions Speak Louder Than Words Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Oct 27 [cited 2024 Mar 2]. Available from:
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