Thin slices of child personality: Perceptual, situational, and behavioral contributions

Jennifer L. Tackett*, Kathrin Herzhoff, Shauna C. Kushner, Nicholas Rule

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The present study examined whether thin-slice ratings of child personality serve as a resource-efficient and theoretically valid measurement of child personality traits. We extended theoretical work on the observability, perceptual accuracy, and situational consistency of childhood personality traits by examining intersource and interjudge agreement, cross-situational consistency, and convergent, divergent, and predictive validity of thin-slice ratings. Forty-five unacquainted independent coders rated 326 children's (ages 8-12) personality in 1 of 15 thin-slice behavioral scenarios (i.e., 3 raters per slice, for over 14,000 independent thin-slice ratings). Mothers, fathers, and children rated children's personality, psychopathology, and competence. We found robust evidence for correlations between thin-slice and mother/father ratings of child personality, within- and across-task consistency of thin-slice ratings, and convergent and divergent validity with psychopathology and competence. Surprisingly, thin-slice ratings were more consistent across situations in this child sample than previously found for adults. Taken together, these results suggest that thin slices are a valid and reliable measure to assess child personality, offering a useful method of measurement beyond questionnaires, helping to address novel questions of personality perception and consistency in childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-166
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Child personality
  • Cross-situation consistency
  • Person perception
  • Personality assessment
  • Thin slice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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