William Ickes

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William Ickes
William Ickes.png
Residence Arlington, Texas
Nationality US citizen
Fields Personality and social psychology
Institutions University of Texas at Arlington (Distinguished Professor)
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin
Known for empathic accuracy; personality influences on initial interactions; the unstructured dyadic interaction paradigm

William Ickes is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington.[1] He is a personality and social psychologist who is known primarily for his research on unstructured dyadic interaction. His first major line of research within this tradition concerns the phenomenon of empathic accuracy ("everyday mind reading"). This research is summarized in his 2003 book Everyday Mind Reading: Understanding What Other People Think and Feel.[2] His second major line of research concerns the influence of personal traits and characteristics on people's initial interactions with each other. This research is summarized in his 2009 book Strangers in a Strange Lab: How Personality Shapes Our Initial Encounters with Others.[3]


Ickes received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1973 at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was trained in the social psychology program. His primary research advisor was Robert Wicklund, although Elliot Aronson was also an important professional mentor during this time. Ickes's first academic job was at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he initiated the research on unstructured dyadic interaction that he would continue to do throughout his academic career. After leaving Wisconsin, he taught briefly at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (1979–1982). He returned to Texas in 1982 to begin his employment at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he has been for nearly 30 years. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Washington in 1992; a Visiting Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1999;[4] and an International Francqui Chair at Ghent University and the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, in 2005.[5]

He married Mary Jo Renard in 1967 and they had three sons: Marcus, John, and William (who died at the age of 13).

Empathic accuracy (everyday mind reading)[edit]

Ickes has published widely on the topic of empathic accuracy, both alone and in collaboration with various colleagues. The study of empathic accuracy has become an important subfield at the interface of two larger fields of study--(1) research on empathy and (2) research on interpersonal perception. Much of the available research on this topic is summarized in two books: Empathic Accuracy (1997) and Everyday Mind Reading (2003).

Ickes's books and articles on empathic accuracy currently comprise about 60 publications.[6] His research has addressed the questions of whether women have greater empathic accuracy than men, whether friends have greater empathic accuracy than strangers, and whether abusive husbands display an impaired ability to "read" their wives' thoughts and feelings. It has also examined the informational sources of empathic accuracy, its motivational aspects, and its role in social support interactions. His empathic accuracy model, written in collaboration with Jeffry Simpson, is perhaps the most influential theory in this area of research.[7][8]

Personality influences on strangers' interactions[edit]

Using the unstructured dyadic interaction paradigm,[9] Ickes and his colleagues have explored the influences of many personal characteristics and personality traits on the interactions between strangers. More specifically, they have examined the influences of such personal characteristics as the participants' gender, their birth order,[10] their race/ethnicity,[11][12] and their physical attractiveness.[13] They have also examined the effects of various personality traits such as androgyny,[14][15] the Big Five personality traits, shyness,[13] and self-monitoring.[16] This research is summarized in Strangers in a Strange Lab (2009).

Other contributions[edit]

In addition to his work on empathic accuracy, Ickes has made a broader contribution to the study of intersubjective social cognition.[1] His 1994 article with Richard Gonzalez[17] was the first to draw a strong distinction between subjective social cognition, which occurs entirely in one person's head and concerns either imagined, reflected-upon, or anticipated interaction, and intersubjective social cognition, which occurs during an actual, ongoing social interaction and involves the intersubjective experience of the interaction partners. Subsequent papers[18][19][20] have elaborated this distinction, which owes much to the existentialist influence of writers such as Alfred Schütz and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Similarly, Ickes's development of a method for measuring empathic accuracy is only part of his broader contribution to developing methods for the study of naturalistic social cognition. These methods enable the assessment and content analysis of the actual thoughts and feelings that interaction partners report,[21] and permit an exploration of the intersubjective themes that characterize the interactions of different dyad types.[22] By comparing the linguistic content of people's self-reported thoughts with the linguistic content of their self-reported feelings, Ickes and Cheng (2011)[23] were able to delineate several ways in which thoughts differ from feelings.

Ickes's interest in personality is also evident in the various personality measures that he and his colleagues have developed. These measures assess the constructs of adherence to conventional morality,[24] internal-external correspondence,[25] self-motivation,[26] social absorption and social individuation,[27][28] and strength of sense of self.[29][30][31] More recently, he and his colleagues have developed other measures to assess the constructs of thin-skinned ego-defensiveness, affect intensity for anger and frustration, and rudeness.[32][33]

In collaboration with William Schweinle and other colleagues, William Ickes participated in an extensive study of the psychology of maritally aggressive men. Over the course of four studies, Schweinle, Ickes, and their colleagues found that maritally aggressive men are especially inaccurate when inferring their own wives' thoughts and feelings,[34] and that a major source of this deficit is their biased belief that women harbor critical and rejecting thoughts and feelings about their male partners.[35][36] This biased perception of women as being critical and rejecting appears to help justify the men's marital aggression in their own minds, and it is a bias that they seek to preserve through tactics such as disattending a women's complaints and reacting to such communications with feelings of contempt rather than sympathy.[36] In general, maritally aggressive men appear to be angry, egocentric individuals. For some of these men, marital abuse is the product of a sudden impulse; for others, it is the product of a built-up resentment that has its origin in the biased perception that women harbor critical and rejecting thoughts and feelings about their male partners.[37] These findings have clearcut implications for the treatment of abusive behavior in maritally aggressive men.

Finally, Ickes developed a theory of how people's sex roles (gender roles) affect their behavior and experience in initial interactions.[38][39][40] The impact of this theory has so far been quite limited, perhaps because it did not receive much attention when the original version of the theory was published in 1981.[38] Ironically, however, a spin-off article titled "Traditional Gender Roles: Do They Make, and then Break, our Relationships?" has been downloaded more than 15,000 times from the ResearchGate website.[41]

Ickes has, to date, more than 160 publications, which include books, books chapters, journal articles, commentaries, and reviews. Along with John H. Harvey and Robert F. Kidd, he was a co-editor of the three-volume series New Directions in Attribution Research.

Academic honors and awards[edit]

In 1997, Ickes received the Berscheid/Hatfield Award for Distinguished Mid-Career Achievement from the International Network on Personal Relationships and a Certificate of Commendation from the American Psychological Foundation. In 1998, he became a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and was a co-recipient (with Jeffry A. Simpson and Tami Blackstone) of a New Contribution Award from the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships. In 2002, he became a Fellow of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and received the Distinguished Record of Research Award from the University of Texas at Arlington. In 2005, he was recognized as an International Francqui Chair by Belgium's Francqui Foundation and was inducted into the University of Texas at Arlington's Academy of Distinguished Scholars. In 2012, his book Strangers in a Strange Lab received the International Association of Relationship Researchers Book Award.

Editorial experience[edit]

Ickes served as a Topic Editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology from 1978–1979; as Associate Editor for the Review of Personality and Social Psychology from 1983–1986; and as Associate Editor for the Journal of Research in Personality from 2004-2006. He has also served as a Consulting Editor for Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin(1980–1981), the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior (1988–1992, 1994–1996, and the Review of Personality and Social Psychology (2004–2006). He was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology from 1982-1991.


Ickes has published two single-authored books:

  • Everyday Mind Reading: Understanding What Other People Think and Feel (2003)
  • Strangers in a Strange Lab: How Personality Shapes Our Initial Encounters with Others (2009)

He has also published several edited (or co-edited) books:

  • Harvey, J., Ickes, W., & Kidd, R. (Eds.) (1976). New directions in attribution research. Vol. 1. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Harvey, J., Ickes, W., & Kidd, R. (Eds.) (1978). New directions in attribution research. Vol. 2. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Harvey, J., Ickes, W., & Kidd, R. (Eds.) (1981). New directions in attribution research. Vol. 3. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Ickes, W., & Knowles, E.S. (Eds.) (1982). Personality, roles, and social behavior. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  • Ickes, W. (Ed.) (1985). Compatible and incompatible relationships. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  • Duck, S.W., Hay, D.F., Hobfoll, S.E., Ickes, W., & Montgomery, B., (Eds.), (1988). Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (1st ed.). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
  • Duck, S.W., Dindia, K., Ickes, W., Milardo, R.M., Mills, R., & Sarason, B. (Eds.) (1997). Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (2nd ed.). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
  • Ickes, W. (Ed.) (1997). Empathic accuracy. New York: Guilford Press.[42]
  • Decety, J., & Ickes, W. (Eds.) (2009). The social neuroscience of empathy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.[43]
  • Smith, J.L., Ickes, W., Hall, J., & Hodges, S.D. (Eds.). (2011). Managing interpersonal sensitivity: Knowing when—and when not—to understand others. New York: Nova Science.


  1. ^ http://www.uta.edu/psychology/faculty/ickes/ickes.htm
  2. ^ http://www.prometheusbooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=37_39&products_id=866
  3. ^ http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Psychology/Social/?view=usa&ci=9780195372953
  4. ^ http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/erskine/honour/honour1999.shtml
  5. ^ http://www.francquifoundation.be/ang/chaires_histo_en.htm
  6. ^ http://www.uta.edu/psychology/faculty/ickes/vita.htm#empacc
  7. ^ Ickes, W., & Simpson, J. (1997). Managing empathic accuracy in close relationships. In W. Ickes (Ed.), Empathic accuracy (pp. 218-250). New York: Guilford Press.
  8. ^ Ickes, W., & Simpson, J. (2001). Motivational aspects of empathic accuracy. In G.J.O. Fletcher & M.S. Clark (Eds.), Interpersonal Processes: Blackwell Handbook in Social Psychology (pp. 229-249). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
  9. ^ Ickes, W., Bissonnette, V., Garcia, S., & Stinson, L. (1990). Implementing and using the dyadic interaction paradigm. In C. Hendrick & M. Clark (Eds.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology: Volume 11, Research Methods in Personality and Social Psychology,(pp. 16-44). Newbury Park, CA.: Sage.
  10. ^ Ickes, W., & Turner, M. (1983). On the social advantages of having an older, opposite-sex sibling: Birth order influences in mixed-sex dyads. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 210-222.
  11. ^ Ickes, W. (1984). Compositions in black and white: Determinants of interaction in interracial dyads. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 330-341.
  12. ^ Holloway, R.A., Waldrip, A.M., & Ickes, W. (2009). Evidence that a simpático self-schema accounts for differences in the self-concepts and social behavior of Latinos versus Whites (and Blacks). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 112-128.
  13. ^ a b Garcia, S., Stinson, L., Ickes, W., Bissonnette, V., & Briggs, S.R. (1991). Shyness and physical attractiveness in mixed-sex dyads. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 35-49.
  14. ^ Ickes, W., & Barnes, R.D. (1978). Boys and girls together--and alienated: On enacting stereotyped sex roles in mixed-sex dyads. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 669-683.
  15. ^ Ickes, W., Schermer, B., & Steeno, J. (1979). Sex and sex role influences in same-sex dyads. Social Psychology Quarterly, 42, 373-385.
  16. ^ Ickes, W., & Barnes, R.D. (1977). The role of sex and self-monitoring in unstructured dyadic interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 315-330.
  17. ^ Ickes, W., & Gonzalez, R. (1994). "Social" cognition and social cognition: From the subjective to the intersubjective. Small Group Research, 25, 294-315.
  18. ^ Ickes, W., & Dugosh, J.W. (2000). An intersubjective perspective on social cognition and aging. Basic and Applied Social Psychology (special issue on Social Cognition and Aging), 22, 157-167.
  19. ^ Ickes, W. (2002). Subjective and intersubjective paradigms for the study of social cognition. The New Review of Social Psychology, 1, 112-121.
  20. ^ Ickes, W. (2002). The social self in subjective and intersubjective research paradigms. In J.P. Forgas and K.D. Williams (Eds.), The social self: Cognitive, interpersonal and intergroup perspectives (pp. 205-218). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.
  21. ^ Ickes, W., Robertson, E., Tooke, W., & Teng, G. (1986). Naturalistic social cognition: Methodology, assessment, and validation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 66-82.
  22. ^ Ickes, W., Tooke, W., Stinson, L., Baker, V.L., & Bissonnette, V. (1988). Naturalistic social cognition: Intersubjectivity in same-sex dyads. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 12, 58-84.
  23. ^ Ickes, W., & Cheng, W. (2011). How do thoughts differ from feelings?: Putting the differences into words. Journal of Language and Cognitive Processes, 26, 1-23.
  24. ^ Tooke, W.S., & Ickes, W. (1988). A measure of adherence to conventional morality. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 7, 310-334.
  25. ^ Ickes, W., & Teng, G. (1987). Refinement and validation of Brickman's measure of internal-external correspondence. Journal of Research in Personality, 21, 287-305.
  26. ^ Dishman, R.K., & Ickes, W. (1981). Self-motivation and adherence to therapeutic exercise. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 421-438.
  27. ^ Ickes, W., Hutchison, J., & Mashek, D. (2004). Closeness as intersubjectivity: Social absorption and social individuation. In D. Mashek and A. Aron (Eds.), The handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 357-373). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  28. ^ Charania, M.R., & Ickes, W. (2007). Predicting marital satisfaction: Social absorption and individuation versus attachment anxiety and avoidance. Personal Relationships, 14, 187-208.
  29. ^ Flury, J., & Ickes, W. (2007). Having a weak versus strong sense of self: The Sense of Self Scale (SOSS). Self and Identity, 6, 281-303.
  30. ^ Ickes, W., Park, A., & Johnson, A. (2012). Linking identity status to strength of sense of self: Theory and validation. Self and Identity, 11, 533-544.
  31. ^ Cuperman, R., Robinson, R.L., & Ickes, W. (in press). On the malleability of self-image in individuals with a weak sense of self. Self and Identity.
  32. ^ Ickes, W., Park, A., & Robinson, R. L. (in press). F#!%ing rudeness: Predicting the propensity to verbally abuse others. Journal of Language and Social Psychology.
  33. ^ Park, A., Robinson, R.L., & Ickes, W. (in press). More f#!%ing rudeness: Reliable personality predictors of verbal rudeness and other ugly confrontational behaviors. Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research.
  34. ^ Clements, K., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Schweinle, W., & Ickes, W.(2007). Empathic accuracy of intimate partners in violent versus nonviolent relationships. Personal Relationships, 14, 369-388.
  35. ^ Schweinle, W.E., Ickes, W., & Bernstein, I.H. (2002). Empathic inaccuracy in husband to wife aggression: The overattribution bias. Personal Relationships, 9, 141-159.
  36. ^ a b Schweinle, W., & Ickes, W. (2007). The role of men’s critical/rejecting overattribution bias, affect, and attentional disengagement in marital aggression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 173-198.
  37. ^ Schweinle, W., Ickes, W., Rollings, K., & Jacquot, C. (2010). Maritally aggressive men: Angry, egocentric, impulsive and/or biased. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 29. 399-424.
  38. ^ a b Ickes, W. (1981). Sex-role influences in dyadic interaction: A theoretical model. In C. Mayo and N. Henley (Eds.), Gender and nonverbal behavior (pp. 95-128). New York: Springer-Verlag.
  39. ^ Ickes, W. (1985). Sex-role influences on compatibility in relationships. In W. Ickes(Ed.), Compatible and incompatible relationships (pp. 187-207). New York: Springer-Verlag.
  40. ^ Ickes, W. (2009). Strangers in a strange lab: How personality shapes our initial encounters with others. New York: Oxford University Press. (Chapter 7)
  41. ^ Ickes, W. (1993). Traditional gender roles: Do they make, and then break, our relationships? Journal of Social Issues, 49, 71-86.
  42. ^ http://www.guilford.com/cgi-bin/cartscript.cgi?page=pr/ickes.htm&dir=pp/dp&cart_id=
  43. ^ http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11777