Institute on Disability


Getting the message: The adaptive potential of interpersonal judgments


John D. Mayer


According to the Social Message Model, interpersonal judgments are transactions in which judges convey important social messages to the individuals they evaluate (the targets); targets can then respond to the judgments in more or less adaptive ways. We argue that judges’ opinions emerge from their current concerns, be it to promote their own well-being, or to foster group cohesion. Targets of judgments can best interpret the meaning of a judgment they receive by understanding the judge’s concerns, competence of the judge, and other qualities of the transaction. We suggest that judges and targets who are better able to reason about the judgment process are likely to change their behaviors more adaptively than people less able to reason in this area.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Review of General Psychology


American Psychological Association

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type



American Psychological Association. 2015