communication & perception

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Communication and Perception:

Communication and Perception

What is perception?:

What is perception? Perception is a complex process. It is the process of selecting, organizing, and subjectively interpreting sensory data in a way that enables us to make sense of our world.

The figure-ground principle:

The figure-ground principle During the perception process, we are active participants. We select, organize, and evaluate the multitude of stimuli that bombard us, so that what we focus on becomes figure and the rest of what we experience become ground .  The figure-ground principle

Figure-ground principle:

Figure-ground principle It is a strategy that facilitates the organization of stimuli by enabling us to focus on different stimuli alternatively .

Slide 8:

When stimuli compete for your attention, you can focus on only one because it is impossible to perceive something in two ways at once! (i.e. one stimuli at a given time)


Closure It is the means we use to fill in missing perceptual pieces.

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Playboy rabbit logo created by Arthur Paul in 1953.

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We seek to fill in gaps , we mentally complete the incomplete figure . We fill them in on the basis of our previous experiences and our needs. We make sense of relationships and events in much the same way. We fill in what isn’t there by making assumptions , or inferences .

Slide 12:

We can see that the accuracy of our perceptions is affected by our inability to perceive two stimuli simultaneously ( figure-ground principle ). It is also influenced by our desire not to open ourselves to unfamiliar experiences and our need to perceive a complete world ( closure ).

Culture & Perception:

Culture & Perception Culture refers to the environments that help to shape your worldview or the way you interpret things that go on around you . Your family and the country you grew up in , as well as any countries you may have lived in , will all become a part of your culture .

How is culture transmitted?:

How is culture transmitted? 1) through the socialization of children . Cultural values, and beliefs are communicated through both verbal and nonverbal means . 2) through parenting practices that teach social and communicative behaviors .

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3) through the media, policies, laws, and the philosophies or pedagogy of such institutions as schools.

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In sum, culture i nfluences on v erbal and n onverbal c ommunication s tyles . Look at Japanese communication style for example.


Silence The Japanese tend to be suspicious of words; they are more concerned with actions . They believe in using silence as a way of communicating . They also believe it is better to talk too little than too much . Japanese take special note of the pauses between words . They are comfortable with less talk and longer periods of silence than are Westerners .


Indirectness They dislike saying no and will not tell you if they do not understand . If they disagree or do not feel they can do something, they will make a statement like “ it will be difficult . ” This usually means they do not feel they can do what you requested .

Eye contact:

Eye contact Holding the gaze of another person is considered rude . The Japanese usually focus on a person’s neck or tie knot . In Western cultures, we are taught to look people in the eyes at all times; averting the eyes often signifies a lack of sincerity or confidence . In Japan, constant eye contact is considered rude or even aggressive

Indicating agreement:

Indicating agreement The Japanese do not judge information given to them so they do not indicate agreement or disagreement . They only nod to indicate they are listening . To the Japanese nodding or saying “ yes ” only means they are listening to what you are saying . It does not indicate agreement .


Miscellaneous Japanese keep a greater physical distance between themselves than do Westerners . Speaking loudly is considered rude and threatening . Pointing is also considered rude . They are also reserved when it comes to physical touching . Coats are kept on and ties are kept straight at meetings . Dress is conservative and often sophisticated and expensive .

Gender & Perception:

Gender & Perception Like culture, gender influences the interpretation of experience. Men and women perceive different realities, have different expectations set and exhibit different communication styles. Babies are conditioned to use behaviors that conform to their gender.

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Your gender has an influence on your communication style . Being cognizant of how you communicate with men and women in the workplace can be particularly helpful in developing healthy relationships .

First impressions :

First impressions What is it? On what basis do you form first impressions? How will it affect the communication process???


Even if our first impressions are wrong, we tend to hold on to them. If the opinion we have of someone is wrong, we can sustain our inaccurate perception by clinging to it and reshaping the conflicting information available to us until it conforms to the image we hold. THUS , we may never come to experience the real person.


Stereotype A stereotype is ____________________ _________________________________. The stereotype we hold affect how we process stimuli around us. When we stereotype, instead of responding to the communication of individuals, we create expectations and behave as if they had occurred.

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Thus , when we stereotype, we judge people on the basis of what we believe about the group in which we have placed them. Stereotyping leads us to oversimplify and overgeneralize what we observe.

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Stereotypes can be considered as positive or negative . Example of a positive stereotypes can be " black men are good at basketball " and a negative stereotype can be " women are bad drivers ".

Stereotyping (con’t):

Stereotyping (con’t) Lazy perceivers also rely on stereotyping as their key perceptual process. They develop prejudices . Prejudice is a biased, negative attitude towards a particular group of people.

Types of stereotyping:

Types of stereotyping Racial and ethnic stereotyping : Black stereotypes, Muslim stereotypes, White American stereotypes, Irish stereotypes,  Italian stereotypes, Jewish stereotypes, East Asian and South Asian Stereotypes and Hispanic Stereotypes.

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Socio-economic stereotypes : Homeless, Working class and Upper class stereotypes

Sexually oriented stereotypes:

Sexually oriented stereotypes People with negative views of gay , lesbian , bisexual and transgender people often use stereotypes about them to justify their attacks . According to ABC News , " Gay activists often criticize media coverage of gay pride parades , saying that the media are likely to focus on the extreme , the more feminine men and very masculine women .

Gender Stereotypes:

Gender Stereotypes Masculine and feminine stereotypes .

Blonde stereotype:

Blonde stereotype It is a stereotype perception of blond - haired women .

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The practice of stereotyping can be harmful . When we stereotype, we project our attitude toward a group of people onto one particular member of that group. We need to recognize that we are all individuals. Whenever we interact with another person, we must realize that we are communicating with a person NOT with a stereotype .

Slide 36:

Watch “ Shallow Hal ” movie (In this film, perception plays a key role in the plot. Identify how perception can alter one’s reality and life experiences.)

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