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11 Apr 2012
of 6
Commerce 2BA3
Chapter 3: Perception, Attribution, and Diversity
Perception: The process of interpreting the messages of our senses to provide
order and meaning to the environment
Components of Reception
The Perceiver
- Experience, needs, and emotions can affect his or her perceptions of a target
- Experience is one of the most important characteristics
Perceptual defense: The tendency for the perceptual system to defend the
perceiver against unpleasant emotions
The Target
- Involves interaction and addition
- The perceiver does not or cannot always use all the information provided by the
The Situation
- Adds information to the target
Social Identity Theory
- A theory that states that people from perceptions of themselves based on their
characteristics and memberships in social categories
Perceptual Process
- Perception is selective
- Perception is efficient, and this efficiency can both aid and hinder our perceptual
- Perceptual constancy: the tendency for the target to be perceived in the same
way over time and across situations
- Perceptual consistency: the tendency to select, ignore, and distort cues in such a
manner that they fit together to forma homogenous picture of the target
Basic Biases in Person Perception
Primary and Recency Effects
Primary Effect
- The tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first impressions
Recency Effect
- The tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last impressions
Central Traits: Personal characteristics of a target person that are of particular
interest to a perceiver
Implicit personality theories: Personal theories that people have about which
personality characteristics go together
Projection: The tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts and
feelings to others
Stereotyping: The tendency to generalize about people in a certain social category
and ignore variations among them
Specific aspects to stereotyping:
- We distinguish some category of people
- We assume that the individuals in this category have certain traits
- We perceive that everyone in this category possesses these traits
Attribution: Perceiving Causes and Motives
Attribution: The process by which causes or motives are assigned to explain
people’s behaviour
Dispositional attributions: Explanations for behaviour based on an actor’s
personality or intellect
Situational attributions: Explanations for behaviour based on an actor’s external
situation or environment
3 implicit questions guide our decisions as to whether we should attribute the
behaviour to dispositional or situational causes:
1) Does the person engage in the behaviour regularly and consistently?
Consistency cues
2) Do most people engage in the behaviour, or is it unique to this person?
Consensus cues
3) Does the person engage in the behaviour in many situations or is it distinctive to
one situation?
Distinctiveness cues
Consistency cues: Attribution cues that reflect how consistently a person engages
in behaviour over time
Consensus cues: Attribution cues that reflect how a person’s behaviour compares
with that of others
Distinctiveness cues: Attribution cues that reflect the extent to which a person
engages in some behaviour across a variety of situations
Biases in Attribution
3 Biases in Attribution
1) Fundamental Attribution Error
The tendency to overemphasize dispositional explanations for behaviour at the
expense of situational explanations
- Can lead to problems for managers of poorly performing employees
2) Actor-Observer Effect
The propensity for actors and observer to view the causes of the actor’s behaviour
3) Self-Serving Bias
The tendency to take credit for successful outcomes and to deny responsibility for
- Can reflect intentional self-promotion or excuse making
Person Perception and Workforce Diversity
Workforce diversity: Differences among recruits and employees in characteristics
such as gender, race, age, religion, cultural background, physical ability, or sexual
The Changing Workplace
- Composition of the labour force is changing
- Changing immigration patterns, the aging of baby boomers, and the increasing
movement of women into paid employment make for a lot more variety
Valuing Diversity
Competitive advantages to valuing diversity:
1) Cost argument
- As organizations become more diverse, the cost of a poor job in integrating
workers will increase. Those who handle this well will thus create cost advantages
over those who don’t.
2) Resource-Acquisition Argument
- Companies develop reputations on favourability as prospective employers for
women and ethnic minorities
- Those will best reputations for managing diversity will win the competition for the
best personnel
3) Marketing Argument