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COMM 151
Christopher Miners

Chapter 3 – Perception, Attribution, and Diversity What is Perception?  Perception: the process of interpreting info received from our senses to provide order and meaning to the environment Components of Perception The Perceiver  Perceiver’s experience leads them to form expectations which affect current perception  Our needs are more noticeable to us, we see what we want to see  Emotions also cloud our judgement, allowing us to misinterpret the situation  Perceptual Defense: tendency for the perceptual system to defend the perceiver against unpleasant emotions The Target  Ambiguous targets are open to greater interpretation, but having more information doesn’t always help  Perceiver does or can not always use all the info provided by the target The Situation  Provides more information that has the ability to change your perception of the target Social Identity Theory  Social Identity Theory: people form perceptions of themselves based on their characteristics and memberships in social categories  Our sense of self is composed of personal identity (personal characteristics like interest, abilities, traits), and social identity (social groups; gender, nationality, religion, occupation)  We categorize ourselves and others based on the relevant social environment (job title at work) and see categorized members embody respective prototypes  We perceive others based on our own social categories (med student in hospital perceived by us as nurses, but as students by the prof in a classroom) A Model of thePerceptual Process  First, we actively seek out information to form perceptions and categorize someone new, then we form a crude categorization, and look for cues to confirm our assumptions  Even if we see contrasting cues, it takes many to actually be able to change the categorization  Any confirming cue strengthen categorization  Perception is selective, we do not use all cues given, which is more efficient but may hinder accuracy  Perceptual consistency refers to a tendency to morph cues so that they fit into our perceptions Basic Biases in Person Perception Primacy and Recency Effects  Primacy Effect: tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first impressions  Recency Effect: tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last impressions Reliance on Central Traits  Central Traits: personal characteristics of a target person that are of particular interest to a perceiver  The central traits we use are ones most relevant to the situation (presentation skills at a conference, and cooking skills at a dinner, BBQ)  Attractiveness is an important central trait: attractive people are judged as “good” and do better in terms of getting hired, being chosen as a business partner, getting promoted, etc.  Contrarily, obese people are heavily discriminated against Implicit Personality Theories  Implicit Personality Theory: personal theories people hold about which personality traits go together (hardworking = honest)  Misunderstanding occurs to the extent of which theses theories are off Projection  Projection: tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts and feelings to others  These can be reasonable assumptions, but overconfidence in them may lead to shock  Could be used to justify bad behaviour Stereotyping  Stereotyping: tendency to generalize about people in a certain social category and ignore variations among them o Distinguish a category, assume certain behaviours for category, attribute these behaviours to individuals  Some stereotypes are favourable, which tend to not be well developed and have room for individual perceptions to form  Stereotypes can easily sway our interpretations of behaviour, even in intentions may have been completely different  Most stereotypes are inaccurate, but enforced nonetheless; they may be more efficient (easily choosing between job candidates) and disproving stereotypes can be difficult because of their ability to skew our perceptions of behaviour Attribution: Perceiving Causes andMotives  Attribution: process by which causes or motives are assigned to explain people’s behaviour  Dispositional Attributions: explanations for behaviour based on an actors personality or intellect  Situational Attributions: explanations for behaviour based on an actors external situation or environment  We ask three questions to determine whether to attribute behaviour to situational or dispositional cuases o Do they regularly engage in behaviour? (consistency cues) o Do most people engage in behaviour, or is it unique? (consensus cues) o Does the person engage in behaviour many times, or is it distinctive to one situation? (distinctiveness cues)  Consistency Cues: attribution cues that reflect how often a person engages in a behaviour over time o High consistency = dispositional  Consensus Cues: attribution cues that reflect how a person’s behaviour compares with that of others o Low consensus = high dispositional o When there are negative consequences, we can be certain that the fact that an individual would go against the expected is due to the fact that it’s inherently related to their personality  Distinctiveness Cues: attribution cues that reflect the extent to which a person engages in some behaviour across a variety of situations o Inconsistent behaviour = situational Attributions in Action Consistency Consensus Distinctiveness Attribution High Low Low Disposition High High High Situation Low High Low Temporary Situation Biases in Attribution  Fundamental Attribution Error: tendency to overemphasize dispositional explanations for behaviour at the expense of situational explanations o We don’t realize the situations people may be in, or only see them in one situation (one side of them) o This is more observable in managers who have not gone through similar positions as employees, and don’t know the roadblocks they face  Actor-Observer Effect: propensity for actors and observers to view the cuases of the acto’s behaviour differently o Actors attribute more to situational; they are more aware of their situations and what their true intentions were o Observers don’t have this information, and tend to assume that you controlled your behaviour  Self-Serving Bias: tendency to take credit for successful outcomes and deny responsibility for failures o Could reflect self-promotion or excuse making o May be explained by more info (scanning environment for explanation of a failure) Person Perception Workplace Diversity  Workforce Diversity: differences in employees like gender, race, age, religion, cultural background, physical ability, sexual orientation The Changing Workplace  Labour pool is changing with women advancing in careers and addition of many immigrants  Organizations trying to reflect more diverse customer base, especially important in service industry  Globalization also means acceptance of diversity Valuing Diversity  Previously tactics were to tolerate and fix diversity  Valuing diversity is important, as it can… o Reduce costs by handling and accepting new workforce o Those with a good reputation relating to diversity will attract more talent o Global marketing facilitated with available first-hand feedback and deeper understanding of culture o Better problem-solving with more perspectives o Less standardized organization, more flexible and fluid Stereotypes and Workforce Diversity  Stereotype Threat: member of a social group feels they might be judged according to a stereotype and that their behaviour or performance might confirm the stereotype  Even when people of ethnic backgrounds make it into an organization, they report having more barriers (it’s not what you know, it’s who you know)  Even though Americans said Japanese managers were more efficient and productive, they’d rather work for an American boss (bad for Globalization)  Stereotypes (negative) may simply be an effect of the environment an organization is in  Women still severely underrepresented on top management positions, the stereotype does not fit well with typical managerial role  When women are successful at “male” positions, they are less liked  Elderly employees are seen as having less capacity for performance, less potential for development, but perceived as more stable  Workers receive “old” stereotype as early as 40 and 45  Stereotypes have less of an impact when more information is provided, removes ambiguity and focuses on actual performance Managing Workforce Diversity  Select enough minority members so that individual behaviour stands out over group membership because of observed differences between these employees  Encourage cross-cultural teamwork  Assure HR bases decisions off of information, not hearsay  Train people to be aware of ster
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