Social Perception: study of how we form impressions of other people and make
inferences about them
nonverbal communication: how people communicate, intentionally or
unintentionally without words.
The capacity to mimic others can be proven scientifically. We use mirror neurons
when we perform and action and when we see another person perform the same
Facial expression and behavior
o Encode: expressing or emitting nonverbal behavior
o Decode: interpreting the meaning of non verbal behavior given by others
o Darwin believed that nonverbal communication were speciesspecific and
o Perceiving an angry or happy face would depend on the person’s gender.
o According to Ekman, the following emotions are universal:
o The judgement of a given facial expression depended on what other faces
o The situation can also affect the way the person reads another persons
facial expression of emotion
o Whether you are a holistic or analytic thinker influences the perception of
facial expressions of emotion
o Why is decoding sometimes inaccurate?
Affect blends: facial expression in which one part of the face
registers one emotion while another part of the face registers
another emotion. For example, when someone tells you something
horrible and disgusting at the same time.
Can be inaccurate because people display this when they are trying
to appear less emotional than they actually are so people don’t
know how they really feel
It can also be inaccurate due to culture and nonverbal
• Display rules (culturally determined rules about which
emotional expressions are appropriate to show) are
particular to each culture • the more individualistic a culture is, the more likely it is
that the expression of emotion is encouraged whereas in
collectivist cultures, moderation is prescribed
• eye contact and eye gaze (form of nonverbal
communication) are channeled by culture as well. For
Americans, if you don’t look someone in the eye it is
considered rude, but in other parts of the world, it’s
considered disrespectful to stare them in the eye.
• Culture also plays a role in personal space as well as hand
and arm gestures (forms of nonverbal communication)
• Emblems: nonverbal gestures that have a wellunderstood
verbal definition. Ex, the middle finger
• In conclusion, a gesture in one culture may not mean
anything in another. And the same nonverbal behavior can
exist in two cultures, but can mean very different things.
Implicit personality theories: Filling in the blanks
implicit personality theory: a type of schema people use to group different kinds
of personality traits together. Ex. If someone is kind, he or she must be generous
Culture and implicit personality theories
o One cultures implicit personality theory can be different to another
Ex. Americans think that someone who is physically attractive
must also be kind and gentle, whereas Chinese people (collectivist
culture) thought people in their community were more attractive
than good looking people in general
o Different cultures have different ideas about personality types
Ex. Western cultures, we have an artistic personality but in China
they don’t have that kind of personality. They have shi gu,
something the western culture doesn’t have.
Casual Attribution: Answering the “Why” Question
attribution theory: the way in which people explain the causes of their own and
other people’s behavior
Fritz Heider is the referred to as the father of the attribution theory
o He says you can make two attributions to why people behaved the way
Internal attribution: inference that a person is behaving a certain
way because of something about her, like her attitude or
External attribution: inference that a person is behaving a certain
way because of the situation he or she is in.
o He says that people prefer internal attributions rather than external ones.
We look at the people more than we look at the situation.
o The Covariation model: Internal vs. External Attributions: We notice and think about more than one piece of information
when we form an impression of someone.
Covariation model: form any attribution about what caused a
person’s behavior. We systematically examine multiple instances
of behavior, occurring at different times and in different situations.
When forming an attribution, we gather information to help us