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Chapter 4

PSYC 241 Ch4 Perceiving Persons.pdf

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Queen's University
PSYC 241
Roderick C L Lindsay

PSYC  241  –  Perceiving  Persons   Chapter   Perceiving  Persons     Social  perception:  the  process  by  which  people  come  to  understand  one  another.     Since  we  cannot  have  a  first-­‐person  perspective  of  someone  else,  we  rely  on  indirect  clues  to  get   an  understanding  of  that  person.  The  following  are  the  elements  of  social  perception:   • Persons   • Situations   • Behaviour     Physiognomy:  reading  one’s  character  based  on  their  face;  a  common  practice  today.       People  with  baby  faces  are  seen  as  being  warm,  kind,  naïve,  weak,  honest,  and  submissive.  Many   findings  that  implicate  how  having  this  face  structure  can  affect  a  person  in  real  situations:   • Judges  are  more  likely  to  rule  in  favour  of  baby-­‐faced  defendants  if  they  are  accused  of   intentional  wrongdoing  but  are  more  likely  to  rule  against  them  if  they  are  accused  of   negligence.     • People  with  baby  faces  are  more  likely  to  be  hired  to  work  in  daycares  or  as  teachers  but   less  likely  to  be  hired  for  jobs  that  require  competency  such  as  banking.     Script:  preset  notion  about  certain  situations  that  help  anticipate  the  goals,  behaviours,  and   outcomes  that  are  likely  to  occur  in  a  particular  setting.  Scripts  influence  social  perception:   • Sometimes  we  see  what  we  expect  to  see  because  of  the  situation.  In  a  study,  participants   were  shown  faces  with  ambiguous  expressions.  When  they  were  told  the  person  in  the   photo  was  being  attacked  they  saw  the  expression  as  fear.  When  they  were  told  the  person   in  the  photo  had  one  the  lottery  they  saw  the  expression  as  happiness.   • People  use  what  they  know  about  social  situations  to  explain  the  causes  of  human   behaviour.  For  example,  we  expect  rowdiness  at  a  keg  party  and  politeness  at  an  interview.     Mind  perception:  process  by  which  people  attribute  humanlike  mental  states  to  various  animate   and  inanimate  objects,  including  other  people.     • People  often  infer  characteristics  based  on  speed  of  movement.  This  finding  was  consistent   when  participants  were  shown  people,  animals,  cartoon  robots,  and  even  a  moving  blob.     What  are  some  of  the  states  of  mind  we  recognize  in  others?   • Thoughts   • Feelings   • Intentions   • Consciousness     Recognizing  the  presence  of  a  mind  in  others  is  not  always  automatic.  In  one  study,  an  actor  was   described  as  either,  “making  the  house  look  new”  or  “applying  brush  strokes”  while  painting.   Those  in  the  former  group  identified  more  with  the  actor  and  were  better  able  to  attribute  states   1   PSYC  241  –  Perceiving  Persons   of  mind  to  him.  Another  study  found  that  the  more  respondents  of  mind  (see  above)  we  see  in   another,  the  more  we  and  value  them.   Researchers  found  that  there  are  two  broad  domains  of  the  respondents  of  mind  that  we   recognize  in  others.   What  are  the  dimensions  of  the  “mind”  that  we  recognize  in  others?   • Agency:  ability  to  plan  and  execute  behaviour.   • Experience:  ability  to  feel  sensations.       Nonverbal  behaviour:  reveals  a  persons  feelings  without  words.     • Facial  expressions   • Body  language   • Vocal  cues   • Emoticons   • Eye  contact/gaze   • Touch     Humans  can  recognize  another’s  emotion  based  on  their  facial  expression,  no  matter  what   ethnicity  the  people  are  from.  One  meta-­‐analysis  found  that  we  are  slightly  more  accurate  at   judging  the  emotions  of  people  from  our  own  ethnicity.  This  offers  an  in-­‐group  advantage  when   it  comes  to  knowing  how  the  people  closest  to  us  are  feeling.       Anger  superiority  effect:  people  are  quicker  to  notice  and  slower  to  look  away  from  an  angry   face  in  a  crowd.     Anger  is  adaptively  a  threatening  emotion  to  us,  because  the  person  may  lash  out  in  violence.   Seeing  anger  in  others,  even  subconsciously,  has  been  shown  in  studies  to  cause  observers  to   frown.       Disgust  is  another  adaptive  emotion.  Recognizing  it  in  others  can  save  us  from  getting  food   poisoning.  The  insula  in  the  brain  became  active  both  when  participants  were  exposed  to  a  foul   odor  and  when  they  were  shown  a  video  of  a  person  reacting  to  a  foul  odor.       Gaze  disengagement:  negative  impression  formed  when  a  person  frequently  looks  away  during   conversation.       Deception   • The  face  is  easier  to  control  than  nervous  movements  of  the  body.   • Many  people  who  are  trained  to  detect  lies  for  a  living  (such  as  police  or  psychiatrists)  are   prone  to  error.     How  is  it  that  people  are  unable  to  pick-­‐up  on  another  person’s  lie?   There  are  four  channels  of  communication:  spoken  word,  voice,  face,  and  body.  There  is  a   mismatch  between  the  behavioural  cues  that  actually  signal  deception  and  those  we  use  to  detect   deception.  Most  people  believe  that  someone  who  is  lying  will  avert  their  eyes,  fidget,  or  stutter,   but  this  is  not  true.  The  voice  is  the  most  telling  channel  (speed  and  pitch  are  increased),  but  most   people  are  wrongly  looking  for  bodily  clues.  Another  common  mistake  is  that  liars  will  be  stressed   2   PSYC  241  –  Perceiving  Persons   when  interrogated,  but  in  certain  situations  this  can  be  true  of  innocent  people  as  well.  One  test  is   to  make  recounting  the  story  cognitively  difficult  such  as  telling  the  story  backwards.     Disposition:  stable  characteristics  such  as  personality  traits,  attitudes,  and  abilities.     • Understanding  someone’s  disposition  makes  it  easier  to  interact,  trust,  and  predict  future   behaviour.   • When  a  social  psychologist  studies  attribution  the  goal  is  not  to  understand  why  someone   did  something,  but  other  people’s  perceptions  of  what  the  attributions  are.     Attributions   • To  make  sense  of  our  social  world  we  seek  to  understand  the  causes  of  others’  behaviour.     (Note  that  in  the  section  on  attributors  there  will  be  frequent  reference  to  the  “actor”.  This  is  in   reference  to  someone  who  has  done  something,  not  someone  in  the  acting  profession).       Personal  attribution:  attribution  to  the  internal  characteristics  of  an  actor.   • Could  be  motivated  by  personality,  mood,  or  effort.     Situational  attribution:  attribution  to  the  factors  external  to  the  actor.     • Could  be  motivated  by  the  task,  other  people,  or  luck.       Attribution  theory:  a  group  of  theories  that  describe  how  people  explain  the  causes  of  behaviour.   This  umbrella  theory  is  composed  of  the  following  theories,  described  below.     • Jones’  Correspondent  inference  theory   • Kelley’s  Covariation  theory     Correspondent  inference  theory:  people  try  to  infer  from  an  action  whether  or  not  the  act  is   characteristic  of  the  actor.  In  other  words,  is  the  action  based  on  an  enduring  trait?  Jones  believe   people  make  these  inferences  based  on  three  factors:   • Choice  –  behaviour  that  is  chosen  freely  is  more  characteristic  of  an  enduring  trait.   • Expectedness  –  an  action  tells  more  about  the  person  when  it  departs  from  the  norm.  For   example,  you  would  be  able  to  make  more  inferences  about  a  student  that  wears  a  suit  to   class  than  a  student  that  wears  jeans.     • Effects  –  more  inferences  can  be  made  about  motive  when  an  act  results  in  a  single   outcome  as  opposed  to  various  outcomes.       Covariation  theory:  humans  are  much  like  scientists  and  will  only  attribute  a  motivation  to  a   person  if  it  stays  constant  while  other  variables  change.     • Covariation  principle:  in  order  for  something  to  be  the  cause  of  a  behaviour,  it  must  be   present  when  the  behaviour  occurs  and  absent  when  it  does  not.     • Three  kinds  of  covariation  information  are  useful  when  making  an  attribution:   • Consensus  –  gathering  information  as  to  how  various  people  react  to  the  same  stimulus.     • Distinctiveness  –  how  does  the  same  person  react  to  different  (relevant)  stimuli?     • Consistency  –  if  the  person  and  the  stimulus  remain  the  same,  does  the  person  react  the   same  at  different  times?     3   PSYC  241  –  Perceiving  Persons         The  example  given  in  the  text  about  covariation  theory  goes  as  follows:   You’re  standing  outside  when  a  stranger  walks  out  of  a  movie  theatre  and  says,  “great  flick!”  Was  the   behaviour  (rave  review)  caused  by  something  about  the  person  (the  stranger),  the  stimulus  (the   film),  or  the  circumstance  (say,  the  comfortable  theatre)?     Information   Scenario  1  +  Attribution   Scenario  2  +  Attribution   Consensus  –  gathering   Others  rave  about  the  film.   Others  don’t  like  the  film.   information  as  to  how  various       people  react  to  the  same   The  stranger’s  behaviour  is   The  stranger’s  behaviour  is   stimulus.     high  in  consensus  and  can  be   low  in  consensus  and  can  be     attributed  to  the  stimulus.     attributed  to  the  person.   Do  other  people  like  this  film?     Distinctiveness  –  how  does  the   The  stranger  raves  about  most   The  stranger  is  critical  of  most   same  person  react  to  different   films.   films.     (relevant)  stimuli?         The  stranger’s  behaviour  is   The  stranger’s  behaviour  is   Does  the  stranger  rave  about   low  in  distinctiveness  and  can   high  in  distinctiveness  and  can   most  films?   be  attributed  to  the  person.   be  attributed  to  the  stimulus.     Consistency  –  if  the  person   The  stranger  always  raves   The  stranger  does  not  rave   and  the  stimulus  remain  the   about  the  film.   about  the  film  in  the  future.   same,  does  the  person  react       the  same  at  different  times?   The  stranger’s  behaviour  is   The  stranger’s  behaviour  is     high  in  consistency  and  can  be   low  in  consistency  and  can  be   What  does  the  stranger  think  of   attributed  to  the  stimulus  or   attributed  to  the  situation.   the  film  on  other  occasions?   the  person.         4   PSYC  241  –  Perceiving  Persons         Often  people  make  biased  attributions.  What  are  the  processes  by  which  they  do  so?     Cognitive  heuristics:  information-­‐processing  rules  of  thumb.       Availability  heuristic:  tendency  to  estimate  the  odds  that  an
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