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PSYC 215 (296)
Chapter

Soc Psy 3

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 215
Professor
Michael Sullivan
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 4 Perceiving Persons Social perception processes by which people come to understand one another. People are both perceivers and targets of others perceptions. Observation: The Elements of Social Perception People use indirect cues in order to know others: Persons: Judging a Book by Its Cover Our first impressions of people are influenced by a persons appearance, the colour of their clothing, their name, etc. Physiognomy reading a persons character from their face People not only read traits from faces, but also use prior knowledge in order to read traits into faces (ex-when told that a man was kind -> later judged his face to be fuller, rounder, and more attractive). Why do we judge others by appearances? 3 possibilities: o Genetically programmed inferences o Learned judgements followed by generalization o An actual link between physical appearances and behaviour (correlations seen between strangers judgements and an individuals self-description). Situations: The Scripts of Life We also hold preset notions about what might occur in a particular setting, these are called scripts. The more experience one has had in a particular situation, the more detailed the script will be. For example, a study was done looking at the first date script, students listed a sequence of events that were then scrambled and organized in order again by participants. Those that had had more experience dating organized the events more quickly than those that had less experience. Scripts can influence social perceptions in 2 ways: o We see what we expect to see (ex-ambiguous face was interpreted differently based on a given situation). o We use scripts to explain causes of behaviour an action provides more information when it deviates from a particular script. Behavioural Evidence People derive meaning fro, their observations by dividing human behaviour into discrete units. Some people break a stream of behaviour into a large number of units, whereas others break it into a small number of larger units. 1 The way that behaviour is divided can influence perceptions. When an event is broken into smaller units, participants attend more closely to actions and are able to detect more meaningful actions and remember more details than when the event is broken into larger units. These participants also become more familiar with the actor that theyve observed, so they also end up viewing the actor in more positive terms (familiarity often increases attraction ch.9). The Silent Language of Nonverbal Behaviour o Behavioural cues are used to determine the inner state of an individual, in addition to helping to identify actions. However, this can be difficult because people often try to hide their true emotions. o Darwins The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals he proposed facial expressions are innate and are understood by all people. People can reliably identify at least 6 primary emotions happiness, fear, sadness, anger, surprise, and disgust. o However, other studies do not fully support the claim that basic emotions can be universally recognized. Elfenbein & Ambady Cross-cultural meta-analysis Results show that while people cross-culturally are able to recognize primary emotions from photographs, people are 9% more accurate at judging faces from their own national, ethnic, or regional groups. Darwin also believed that the ability to recognize emotions in others had survival value., suggesting that it might be more adaptive to be able to identiy some emotions over others. Angry (threatening) faces are more arousing than happy (non- threatening) faces. Disgust when confronted with an aversive stimulus, people react with disgust. This might be adaptive because food poisoning is a threat and it might be necessary to recognize it in the faces of others via the emotion of disgust. o fMRI showed insula activation both when smelling a aversive odour, as well as when watching others sniff it. o The importance of non-verbal behaviour is especially evident in the fact that online communication often involves the use of emoticons to avoid misinterpretation. o Other non-verbal cues like body language are also important in making judgements. The ways in which people stand, sit, walk, and use gestures are a big part of social perception. o Eye contact is another form of non-verbal communication. People are very attentive to gaze and will often follow the gaze of another person. This can be seen even in one year olds. In many cultures, people assume that certain kinds of eye contact denote an emotion. However, eye contact can also be interpreted in regards to a pre-existing relationship; frequent eye contact when a relationship is positive is seen positively and vice-versa. 2 o Touch has long been seen as an expression o friendship, nurturance, and sexual interest. Henley Saw that men, older persons, and those of high socioeconomic status were like likely to touch women, younger people, and those of lower socioeconomic status. This touching may also be an expression of dominance and control. In addition, handshakes are also capable of influencing first impressions. o Importantly, nonverbal communication varies from one culture to another. Distinguishing Truth from Deception o Freud said that it would be impossible for a person to lie because the individuals non- verbal cues would give them away. Ekman & Friesen showed series of films to female nurses. Nurses were instructed to either give their honest impressions of the films or to conceal their true feelings. Observers later judged whether the responses were truthful or deceptive. Results showed that accuracy rates were greater when observers watched tapes focused on the body rather than the face. Thus, the face is easier to control, unlike the nervous movements of the body. o In other studies as well, people frequently make mistakes in their judgements of truth/deception and often accept what others say at face value. o In addition, people are confident of their judgements in lie-detection, regardless of whether they are correct or incorrect. o Some people are better at detecting lying compared to others. However, even professionals are highly prone to error. o Why are we so prone to error? Zuckerman there is a mismatch between behavioural cues that signal deception and those that are used by perceivers to detect deception. We often focus on words and the face and forget about the cues from the body and voice. 4 means of communication provide information: Words cannot be trusted alone Face controllable Body more revealing than the face (fidgeting, shifting) Voice most revealing cue (rise in pitch, increased hesitation) Attribution: From Elements to Dispositions In order to understand people well enough to predict their future behaviour, we need to identify their dispositions (personality, attitudes, abilities). Attribution Theories In order to make sense o our social world, we try to understand causes of other peoples behaviour. 3
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