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Chapter 3: Social Perception : 

Chapter 3: Social Perception Social Psychology Fall 2008

What is Social Perception? : 

What is Social Perception? The process by which we seek to know and understand other people Complex process Why is this so important? 3 central aspects Nonverbal communication Attribution Impression formation and management

Nonverbal Communication : 

Nonverbal Communication Relies on unspoken language Precedes verbal communication 4 Basic Channels:

Facial Expressions : 

Facial Expressions 5 (maybe 6) basic emotions represented on the human face As humans, we can pick up on many different combinations or degrees of these emotions Are they universal?

Eye Contact : 

Eye Contact What does gazing or sustained eye contact suggest? What about avoiding eye contact? Staring?

Body Language : 

Body Language Cues provided by the position, posture, and movement of others’ body parts.

Touching : 

Touching Information conveyed through touching depends on several factors: Who is touching you (friend? Stranger?) Nature of the contact (brief? Gentle?) Context (business? Social?) What does a firm handshake mean?

Nonverbal Deception : 

Nonverbal Deception How are good are we at recognizing a lie? Not very good! Why don’t we want to see deception? We are reluctant to see deception in others, because if we accuse them of deception but we’re wrong, it would be impolite. We want to assume that people are truthful

Cues for Catching a Liar : 

Cues for Catching a Liar Microexpressions – fleeting facial expressions Interchannel discrepancies – inconsistencies between nonverbal cues Eye Contact – increased blinking, dilated pupils, too little or too much eye contact Exaggerated facial expressions – smiling too broadly, laughing too loudly, etc

Attribution : 

Attribution The process through which we seek to identify the causes of other’s behavior and so gain knowledge of their stable traits and dispositions. Why are we so curious?

Kelley’s Theory of Causal Attributions : 

Kelley’s Theory of Causal Attributions When trying to determine why someone is doing something, we look at three major types of information: Consensus – are other people acting the same way? Consistency – does he/she do this all the time? Distinctiveness – does he/she do this in a range of situations?

Example of the Attribution Cube : 

Example of the Attribution Cube External Attribution (Spot is a vicious dog) Internal Attribution (Joe is a vicious person)

Attribution Errors : 

Attribution Errors Fundamental Attribution Error (also called Correspondence Bias) Actor-Observer Effect Self-Serving Bias Magical Thinking

Fundamental Attribution Error : 

Fundamental Attribution Error We overestimate dispositional effects of other’s behavior. Why does this occur? Some theories… We focus on their actions, and circumstances fade into the background Behavior is more salient than circumstances We have more language for describing traits We can (and sometimes do) correct for this error by later considering situational factors

Actor-Observer Effect : 

Actor-Observer Effect We attribute our own actions to situations, but attribute other’s actions to dispositions. Why do we do this? We’re more aware of our situation Example: Road Rage!

Self-Serving Bias : 

Self-Serving Bias We attribute our successes to internal causes, and our failures to external causes. Example: Grade on a term paper

Magical Thinking : 

Magical Thinking We sometimes believe our thoughts influence events. Example: if you wish for something bad to happen to someone, and it does! Voodoo Dolls We overestimate our influence on the external world

Impression Formation : 

Impression Formation When we meet someone, we interpret the person as a whole, not just a series of traits. We form first impressions very quickly Impressions are often shaped by Implicit Personality Theories Some inaccurate impressions can be helpful

Impression Management : 

Impression Management 2 Major Categories: Self-enhancement – efforts to increase our appeal others Examples? Other-enhancement – efforts to make the target person feel good Examples? Cognitive Load decreases our ability/ willingness to participate in impression management.

The Big Ideas : 

The Big Ideas We are constantly trying to understand the people and events around us. Overall, we’re pretty good at it, since we are interacting with people and events our entire lives. But, sometimes we’re not so good at figuring them out We assess other people almost immediately (and sometimes incorrectly). We care what other people think about us.

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