Perception: The process of interpreting the messages of our senses to
provide order and meaning to the environment.
Perception helps sort out and organize the complex and varied input
received by our senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing.
Components of Perception:
- A perceiver
- A target that is being perceived
- Some situational context in which the perception is occurring
These all influence the perceiver’s impression or interpretation of the
The Perceiver: experience, needs, and emotions can affect his or her
perceptions of a target.
One of the most important characteristics of the perceiver that
influences his or her impressions of a target is experience. Past
experiences lead the perceiver to develop expectations, and these
expectations affect current perceptions.
Perceptual defense: The tendency for the perceptual system to defend
the perceiver against unpleasant emotions.
(see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear)
Our perceptual system works to ensure we do not see or hear things
that are threatening.
The Target: Perception involves interpretation and the addition of
meaning to the target, and ambiguous targets are especially
susceptible to interpretation and addition. Perceivers have a need to
resolve such ambiguities.
The Situation: Every instance of perception occurs in some situational
context, and this context can affect what one perceives. The most
important effect that the situation can have is to add information
about the target. Social Identity Theory: A theory that states that people form
perceptions of themselves based on their characteristics and
memberships in social categories.
As a result, our sense of self is composed of a personal identity and a
social identity. Our personal identity is based on our unique personal
characteristics, such as our interests, abilities, and traits. Our social
identity is based on our perception that we belong to various social
groups, such as our gender, nationality, religion, occupation….
Bruner’s model demonstrates three important characteristics of the
1. Perception is selective. Perceivers do not use all the available cues,
and those they do use are thus given special emphasis.
2. Perceptual constancy: refers to the tendency for the target to be
perceived in the same way over time or across situations.
3. Perceptual consistency: refers to the tendency to select, ignore,
and distort cues in such a manner that they fit together to form a
homogeneous picture of the target.
Primacy Effects: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first impressions.
Primacy often has a lasting impact. Primacy is a form of selectivity,
and its lasting effects illustrate the operation of constancy.
Recency Effect: LAST IMPRESSIONS
The tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last
impressions. (situation in which people give undue weight to the cues
they encountered most recently – last impressions count the most)
Central Traits: See only what you want to see
Each of us has a “theory” about which personality characteristics go
together. They are called implicit personality theories.
Projection: The tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts
and feelings to others. (people often assume that others are like
Stereotyping: The tendency to generalize about people in a certain
social category and ignore variations among them. Attribution: The process by which causes or motives are assigned to
explain people’s behavior.
Dispositional attributions (internal): Explanations for behavior
based on an actor’s personality or intellect. Behavior thus
reflects the “true person”
Situational attributions (external): Explanations for behavior
based on an actor’s external situation or environment. Person
might have had little control over the behavior.
Different Attribution cues (has to be low [situational] or high
Consistency cues: Attribution cues that reflect how consistently a
person engages in a behavior over time.
Consensus Cues: Attribution cues that reflect how a person’s behavior
compares with that of others.
Distinctiveness Cues: Attribution cues that reflect the extent