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PSYC 473
Mark Baldwin

PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism The way in which we interpret other people is often irrelevant to the facts about those others and more directly related to what we are prepared to see in them  Creation of an expectancy or a stereotype in the mind of a perceive will go a long way toward directing the outcome of that perceiver’s impressions Just because person perception is directed by what we expect to see, what we want to see and what we hope to see, this does not mean that we recognize in ourselves that the ways in which we see other people are influenced by these expectancies, wants and wishes  We see ourselves as merely transcribers of the qualities displayed by others, despite the fact that our construal of them is heavily influenced by subjective forces that are divorced from the actual qualities of the persons being perceived  We remain naïve to our biased perception of others, clinging to the image of ourselves as objective Failure to see how we subjectively arrive at the conclusions we draw about others can be referred to as naïve realism  Captures the idea that when trying to make sense of the world, we begin with the perception of the people and objects that enter our visual field  Both objects and people have features that are independent of us  Enduring character of the people and things we observe gives rise to the belief that our experience of things is one of an objective reality opening itself up to us Their reality character is not a result of inference or belief; it is the source of inferences and beliefs Asch  Our understanding of an object is transformed and “constructed” according to the specifications we bring as perceivers to meet the world of stimuli that bombard our senses Bruner  Even most simple forms of knowing, such as knowing that a thing on a desk is a “pencil” require us to make inferences that are not directly revealed by the properties of the thing  Such inferences represent a leap beyond what is objectively revealed to us by the stimulus  Process where we go beyond the information given in order to imbue the stimulus with meaning PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism  Inferences occur unconsciously Causes for a person’s actions are ambiguous and unknown so assumption that we have perfect insight into a person’s “essence” from observing his behavior might be inappropriate Despite the fact that people are hardly as objective as objects, we rarely recognize the perceptual distortions and inferences that we often make; we maintain a healthy dose of naïve realism in the realm of social perception General forces that shape social cognition  First force is context in which a behavior occurs, with the same behavior changing in meaning as the situation changes  Next, ways in which we perceivers “make” experience – how we construct perception The Constructed Nature of Perception: The Role of Context There is More to Perception than What Meets the Eye Perception is not merely a case of transcribing data, but of making sense of data  The way we make sense of data is partly determined by the context in which those data are received  Our understanding of even simple stimuli is dependent on the background against which objects are seen Part of our perceptual experience is determined not by the properties of the object or person we have observed, but by the context in which the observation occurs Gestalt Psychology and the Construction of Perceptual Experience Holism Parts of a stimulus array interact to make up a structure and those interacting parts are dynamic in that they influence one another  Understanding is achieved by examining the nature of the relationship between the parts and the emerging properties that the dynamic system reveals Holism: Perception is not a sum of the parts of a series of stimuli taken individually, but the result of the placement of a stimulus in a field from which it derives meaning  A person is more than the sum of his traits and behaviours Mueller-Lyer illusion  Perception of length of a line is altered by the surrounding features in which the line is embedded PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism  Top line, despite being equal in length to the lower one, seems longer because of the context in which it is encountered Ebbinghaus illusion  Perceived size of inner circle of each set is altered by the size of its surrounding circles The same image is perceived differently by the same person, depending on the context which the image is seen Closure Second Gestalt principle  First was the notion that the parts must be seen as a functional “whole”  Perceptual system can supply information to our experience to complete that experience and give it meaning  In person perception, we make inferences or seek input from others to fill in the gaps and give meaning to a person’s behavior  Pieces of info that are observed are put together by the perceptual system so they make sense as a unit  System strives toward structured and coherent organization Pragnanz  Manner in which our perceptual system seeks to provide closure Principle of Pragnanz asserts that we tend to perceive and structure information in the clearest, least ambiguous way  Tendency toward perceptual rigidity, intolerance of ambiguity and viewing new experiences from standpoint of an existing set Figure and Ground  Some aspects of the entire field are the focus of attention, jumping out and capturing the eye – they are figural (Figure)  Rest of situation fades into the background (Ground) Figure and ground do more than form a structure with emergent meaning; the perception of the figure is determined by its ground such that changes in ground alter the interpretation of what is figural  What is actually seen as figural can alter from person to person, depending on where we choose to focus our attention What is seen as figural is not absolute, it is dependent on where we happen to focus our attention  What is figural will be determined by the context specifying and limited what is appropriate Naïve Realism from Ignoring the Social Context PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism Kurt Lewin  Endorsed a view that behavior could only be understood within the entire field of stimuli, as an interaction of a person with a situation  Dynamic approach that reflected the Gestalt principle of holism, in that action could only be understood within the context of the entire “field” or against a background Social behavior is determined by context  The way in which a perceiver construes his environment can change dramatically when a person is observed in one context vs another Milgram  ContextShaping behavior  Electric shock lab experiment  There was something about the power of the situation that got people to act in ways they would never have intended, despite the fact that they were clearly free not to do it  They yielded to power of situation and followed the “script” of what one is supposed to do in an experiment – one does what one is told and asks questions later  Doesn’t illustrate naïve realism much  Ppts said it was situation that caused their behavior  Attributed their behavior to the power of the situation, thus detecting the role of context in shaping their judgment and action Naïve realism  Belief that one’s actions and perceptions are based on the qualities of the stimulus alone, unaltered by context it appears in Latane and Darley  People would fail to do things they always assumed they would do  People did not act altruistically and help others who appeared to be in dire need  Found that the more bystanders present at the time of the emergency, the less likely the person experiencing the emergency was to receive help  A behavior seen when alone seems altogether different from the same behavior seen along with other bystanders who fail to offer aid 1. A context in which one is alone offers a quite clear set of social norms PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism  If person is potentially in need and no one else is present, norms dictate that a bystander should offer the person help  If a person is potentially in need of aid, others will detect this and either look alarmed or offer assistance (or both)  The individual perceiver, having turned to the other people in the context to help define and understand the behavior unfolding in that context, is now likely not to construe the event as an emergency or one where the individual needs to intervene  The more people present in a context, the less personal responsibility any one individual feels and thus the less likely it is that one will act (safe in the assumption that someone else will act) Diffusion of responsibility  Failure to act that arises from diffusion of responsibility has a damaging social component because when people fail to act, they also look at each other not actingAssumption that there is no need to act  Alters the way he defines the situation Asch  Context played a larger role  Objectively short line was labeled as “tall” by an individual when seen in the context of a group whose members called the line “tall”  People were oblivious to the power that the social force held over them  Even if the majority had not been present, their responses would have been unchanged  The written responses of ppts made it evident that any came to doubt their own perceptual ability rather than doubting the group o Not just superficial conformity  The members lacked awareness that they drew their strength from the majority, and that their reactions would change drastically if they faced the dissenter individually The Inherent Meaning of the Data Seems to Change with a Change in Context Features of the data may suggest specific meanings, but which features are attended to can shift from situation to situation  Context can alter the very meaning they ascribe to the behavior/data they observe and can determine what they think they see PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism The car crash example  Each situation describes the same utility of taking the risk vs taking the sure thing  Sure thing gets you $900; the risk presents you with a 60% chance of having $1500  Decision people make and the behavior they choose to pursue are determined by how the question is framed  People are less likely to go to court when the context is described one way vs another The Framing Effect Tversky and Kahneman  Same example above  The way in which they were framed altered the ppts’ willingness to take a risk  Data showed that people are much more likely to take the sure thing when the options are framed in terms of gains o Most people say they would settle out of court and take $900  When people see situation framed in terms of loss, most people decide to take their chances and go to court Framing effect  Impact on one’s decision to pursue an outcome as determined by whether the outcome is framed as loss or gain When situation is described to people in terms of what they have to gain from it, people are placed in state that has been called risk- aversive – they try to keep what they have for sure  When same situation described to people in terms of what they stand to lose, people are placed in state that has been called risk-seeking – They are willing to take chances in hopes of preventing loss The way in which we interpret a person’s behavior and qualities can depend on a shift in context as subtle as altering how the behavior and qualities of the person are framed Shafir  Same person could be seen both as more desirable than an alternative and less desirable than that same alternative  To shift whether a parent is seen as more or less desirable requires merely altering the way in which the information describing the parent is framed  Custody example of extreme positive/negative info parent PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism  Decision to award custody made the positive features of the “enriched” parent more strongly salient than the negative features  The decision to reject custody made salient the negative features of the “enriched” parent  How questions are framed can alter your perception and decision making Seemingly Useless Information Even addition of useless information to our context can change what we see as salient and what types of evaluations we make so that the very same data change their meaning and their impact on us shifted and reversed Redelmeier and Shafir  Doctor priority surgery example  Patient 1 and 2 had 62% and 38% priority respectively  Next scene, add Patient 3 which is similar to Patient 1  Patient 2 received 58% priority  Context alters the way in which a doctor attaches meaning to and evaluates the data so that a person who was a low priority in one context suddenly becomes a high priority, when all that changes in the context is the addition of another person When Questions Determine Answers Schwarz  Contextual forces – ranging from the phrasing of the questions asked, to the order in which the questions are asked, to the types of scales provided to respond to those questions – can influence person perception When people are answering questions, the first step is to understand the question being asked and the context in which the question is asked – including detailed features of the context – can change that interpretation Schwarz  The way in which people interpreted the meaning of a phrase, and therefore the way in which they perceived themselves, were both determined by the types of responses offered Not just the rating scale used that can alter how people interpret questions  Surrounding questions, particularly those answered immediately prior to a particular question, can have an impact on what one believes a given question is asking and the way in which one describes the self PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism Schawrz  Fictitious program example  Ratings of the fictitious German program changed as a function of the context, because one context led ppts to infer that the question referred to some plan to charge students, and the other context led them to infer that it was a plan to provide financial aid to students  Context in which a question is embedded alters the perception of the question, due to the standard, or frame of reference, one uses in evaluating the question  As the standard or point of comparison shifts, perception shifts The context determines the meaning the data seem to possess The Constructed Nature of Perception: The Role of the Perceiver Concept of life space that has forcefully guided this focus on context also includes the person who is within  Differences between people should alter the way in which the context is experienced and the way in which the behaviour that is observed within that context is construed Reference points  Sherif said we use other elements in the environment as standards In object perception, standards are typically other objects with which the target shares physical space In person perception, the norms of our cultures often serve as an internal frame of reference that we lean on in perception  People from different cultures can perceive the same stimulus differently  Norms we have internalized from our cultures are important elements of the field, capable of exerting an influence over our perception, judgment and behaviour Sherif  All our experiences are filtered through culture  Different individuals perceive exactly the same info in different ways Subjectivity in Object Perception Sherif  Autokinetic effect is a perceptual illusion whereby a small point of light, though stationary, is perceived as moving if the individual is in a dark room where there is no frame of reference against which to see the light PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism  Found that group gradually converged on a shared norm for how much the light “moved”  Socially developed norm continued to persist in directing how people responded as individual members of the group were removed and replaced with new members  Frames of reference was transmitted among members of group  Norm established in group setting continued to influence perception when participants later made the same judgments when alone We come to see a stimulus differently through the filter of one set of cultural norms versus another, despite our being oblivious to the fact that we are using such norms to filter perception “New Look”  Described people as manipulating the data (unknowingly) according to their expectancies, prior knowledge, needs, motives, and values  People see what they expect to see, and are adept at seeing things they value, desire and like Before it was…”Authochthonous determinants of perception” by Bruner and Goodman  Describing humans as organisms who transcribe physical stimuli directly into mental representations Bruner  Manipulated what people expected to see  When they had an expectancy, their perception was distorted to fit it  If expectancy of a pine tree was provided, the drawings looked like typical pine trees  Influence was exerted on attention and judgment, despite unawareness  Disc example o Subjective size of each disc was affected by type of symbol inscribed on the disc; that is, the disc with positive symbols and the discs with negative symbols were each perceived to be larger than the discs with neutral symbols o Value associated with the thing being perceived leads to accentuation in perception  A negative stimulus would be seen as larger to warn people about danger and threat and thus the accentuated perception PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism of such stimuli would help people prepare to defend against the coming threat  Influence of these forces is only magnified in ambiguous situations, where the physical stimuli do not impel an obvious meaning Exactly the Same Person/People Perceived Differently by Two Sets of Observers Hastorf and Cantril  While the identical movie was shown to two separate groups of students, this identical information was seen differently by the two groups  Both groups saw different things  Similarly, even same person hear the same speech and have totally opposing views of (1) what was said/seen and (2) why the person making the speech said what he/she did or why the events observed occurred As long as the goals, affect, expectancies, and mood of the perceiver have changed, the stimulus perception is altered (the actual stimulus doesn’t change) The Mechanisms of Naïve Realism Changing the Judgment of an Object We all tend to evaluate information in line with our values and attitudes  Naïve realism exacts its influence by influencing how we judge an object  There is a change in judgment of the object as a function of the differences in the POV and attitudes between the two sets of perceivers  Our affective or evaluative response to a person or object is applied to things associated with that person or object o Spreading of affect or valence Lorge  Changes in the ratings of the quotes corresponded with participants’ liking for the people to whom the remarks had been attributed  When a statement is read, a perceiver attaches to it the same evaluative reaction held toward its author Evaluation can spread from traits we have attributed to a person to how we interpret and evaluate other traits of the person Spreading of evaluation from one trait to others is referred to as a halo effect PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism  Evaluation attached to one trait known to be possessed by a person imposes itself on how we evaluate other behaviour and traits that are also attributed to that person Judgment of some subset of traits leads to formation of general impression that surrounds the individual and illuminates the entire person with the evaluation associated with the general impression Asch  General impression operates as a force that shifts the evaluation of each individual trait in the direction of the general impression Nisbett and Wilson  Halo effects were found to occur: Evaluation spread from some characteristics to others, even to characteristics that were irrelevant to the behaviour observed Asch  Changing one trait in the list changed the evaluation associated with all the traits Changing the Object of Judgment Gestalt principle of holism coming into play:  A set of traits can only be understood not as a series of individual traits that somehow are summed together, but as a meaningful constellation, a unit with emerging meaning  When part of the constellation changes, the emergent meaning changes as well If the general impression shifts, it is not simply evaluation that shifts, but the meaning of the entire impression and the individual traits of which it is composed Asch  Believed that some traits have greater power than others in a constellation of traits and behaviours involved in determining the emergent meaning linked to the set of traits o Central traits  Peripheral traits o Whose ultimate evaluation and meaning can be dependent on the central traits Entire unit of information shifted when a central trait was altered  Altering peripheral traits does not have this severe of an impact on how information is interpreted A trait that is central when imbedded in one set of traits can take on a different meaning, and even be peripheral, if it is encountered among a different set of traits Hastorf and Cantril PSYC473 Chapter 1 Naïve Realism  Believed that two groups of students saw different games, even shown same movie  Rather than changing their judgments of an identical objec
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