Research in my lab represents a reinvigorated interest in examining how personality impacts what ordinary people do in their everyday lives. As such, our research builds on much of the vital work that has been done over the past 40 years on personality structure and measurement. With the structural and measurement foundations of personality now secure, researchers can return to the much-needed task of examining the impact of personality in the real world. Attention should now be directed to the tasks and activities that occupy individuals’ lives—individuals go to work, listen to music, spend time in their gardens, exercise, worship, maintain their houses, speak, and eat, yet very little is known about how these everyday acts are related to personality and how others use these behaviors to form impressions of one another. As David Funder (2001) observed, “…the catalog of basic facts concerning the relationships between personality and behavior remains thin.”

In the spirit of Paul Rozin’s (2001, 2008) calls to conduct exploratory research on real-world social psychological phenomena, our lab is investigating how personality is expressed and perceived in several domains of everyday life, including:

  • The environments in which individuals live and work
  • Preferences for particular types of music, movies, books, food, and leisure activities
  • Online environments
  • Clothing & Appearance
  • Social behavior
  • Spatial distribution across local (rooms) and large-scale (e.g., countries) spaces

Some forms of everyday expression may be deliberate attempts to make statements to others. For example, an individual could communicate her liberal values by including images of and links to liberal political icons (e.g., Malcolm X) on her Facebook profile. Other forms of expression may simply be unintended consequences of an individual’s actions—“behavioral residue.” For example, an organized individual may have an office with a clean, tidy desk, alphabetized books, color-coded files, and neatly arranged post-it notes.

We also examine how observers use everyday manifestations to form impressions of others. For example, what impressions are formed about a person on the basis of his music collection? Are these impressions accurate?

On the basis of our work on personal environments (e.g., offices, bedrooms), we have developed a model articulating (1) the mechanisms by which individuals impact the environments they inhabit and (2) the processes that observers use to make inferences about the occupants on the basis of these spaces (Gosling, Ko, Mannarelli, & Morris, 2002).

Our research focuses on the following issues:

Everyday manifestations of personality – Which cues are reliably linked to what individuals are like?

Everyday person perception – Which cues do individuals use to form their impressions of others?

Consensus – Do observers agree with one another in their impressions of others?

Accuracy – Are observers impressions of others accurate?

Stereotype use – how do stereotypes hinder or promote consensus and accuracy?


Sei Jin Ko, Lindsay Graham, Thomas Mannarelli, Matthias Mehl, Laura Naumann, Jason Rentfrow, Simine Vazire

Representative Publications:

Back, M. D., Stopfer, J. M., Vazire, S., Gaddis, S., Schmukle, S. C., Egloff, B., & Gosling, S. D. (2010). Facebook profiles reflect actual personality not self-idealization. Psychological Science, 21, 372-374.

Carney, D. R., Jost, J. T., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2008). The secret lives of liberals and conservatives: Personality profiles, interaction styles, and the things they leave behind. Political Psychology, 29, 807-840.

Gebauer, J. E., Bleidorn, W., Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., Lamb, M. E., & Potter, J. (in press). Cross-Cultural Variations in Big Five Relations with Religiosity: A Socio-Cultural Motives Perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Gosling, S. D., Augustine, A. A., Vazire, S., Holtzman, N., & Gaddis, S. (2011). Manifestations of personality in Online Social Networks: Self-reported Facebook-related behaviors and observable profile information. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 483-488. [DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0087]

Gosling, S. D., Craik, K. H., Martin, N. R., & Pryor, M. R. (2005). The Personal Living Space Cue Inventory: An analysis and evaluation. Environment and Behavior, 37, 683-705.

Gosling, S. D., Craik, K. H., Martin, N. R., & Pryor, M. R. (2005). Material attributes of Personal Living Spaces. Home Cultures, 2, 51-88.

Gosling, S. D., Gaddis, S., & Vazire, S. (2008). First impressions based on the environments we create and inhabit. In N. Ambady, & J. J. Skowronski (Eds.), First Impressions (pp. 334-356). New York: Guilford.

Gosling, S. D., Gifford, R., & McCunn, L. (2013). The selection, creation, and perception of interior spaces: An environmental psychology approach. In G. Brooker & L. Weinthal (Eds.), The Handbook of Interior Design (pp. 278-290). Oxford, UK: Berg.

Gosling, S. D., Ko, S. J., Mannarelli, T., & Morris, M. E. (2002). A Room with a cue: Judgments of personality based on offices and bedrooms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 379-398. [Available in pdf]

Gosling, S. D., Sandy, C. J., & Potter, J. (2010). Personalities of self-identified “dog people” and “cat people.” Anthrozoös, 23, 213-222.

Graham, L. T., & Gosling, S. D. (2012). Impressions of World of Warcraft players’ personalities based on their usernames: Interobserver consensus but no accuracy. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 599-603.

Graham, L. T., & Gosling, S. D. (2013). Personality profiles associated with different motivations for playing World of Warcraft. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16, 189-193.

Graham, L. T., & Sandy, C. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Manifestations of individual differences in physical and virtual environments. In T. Chamorro-Premuzic, S. von Stumm, & A. Furnham (Eds.), Handbook of Individual Differences (pp. 773-800). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Mehl, M. R., Gosling, S. D., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2006). Personality in its natural habitat: Manifestations and implicit folk theories of personality in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 862-877.

Naumann, L. P., Vazire, S., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2009). Personality judgments based on physical appearance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1661-1671

Obschonka, M., Schmitt-Rodermund, E., Silbereisen, R. K., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2013). The regional distribution and correlates of an entrepreneurship-prone personality profile in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom: A socioecological perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 104-122[DOI: 10.1037/a0032275]

Rentfrow, P. J., Goldberg, L. R., Stillwell, D. J., Kosinski, M., Gosling, S. D., & Levitin, D. J. (2012). The song remains the same: A replication and extension of the MUSIC model. Music Perception, 30,161-185. [DOI: 10.1525/MP.2012.30.2.161]

Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2003). The do re mi’s of everyday life: The structure and personality correlates of music preferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 1236-1256. [Available in pdf]

Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2006). Message in a Ballad: The role of music preferences in interpersonal perception. Psychological Science, 17, 236-242. [Available in pdf]

Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2007). The content and validity of music-genre stereotypes among college students. Psychology of Music, 35, 306-326.

Rentfrow, P. J., Gosling, S. D., Jokela, M., Stillwell, D. J., Kosinski, M., & Potter, J. (2013). Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 996-1012. [DOI: 10.1037/a0034434]

Rentfrow, P. J., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2008). A theory of the emergence, persistence, and expression of geographic variation in psychological characteristics. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 339-369.

Sandy, C. J., Gosling, S. D., & Durant, J. (2013). Predicting Consumer Behavior and Media Preferences: The Comparative Validity of Personality Traits and Demographic Variables. Psychology and Marketing, 30, 937-949. [DOI: 10.1002/mar.20657]

Swann, W. B., Jr., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2003). The precarious couple effect: Verbally inhibited men + critical, disinhibited women = bad chemistry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 1095-1106. [Available in pdf]

Vazire, S. & Gosling, S. D. (2004). e-perceptions: Personality impressions based on personal websites. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 123-132. [Available in pdf]

Vazire, S., Naumann, L. P., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2009). Smiling reflects different emotions in men and women. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32, 403-405.

Vazire, S., Naumann, L. P., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2008). Portrait of a narcissist: Manifestations of narcissism in physical appearance. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1439-1447.

Wilson, R. E., Gosling, S. D., & Graham, L. T. (2012). A review of Facebook research in the social sciences. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 203-220[DOI 10.1177/1745691612442904]