Chapter 3 Notes

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1 Jun 2011

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Chapter 3 Perception, Attribution, and Diversity Notes
What is Perception?
x perception Æ the process of interpreting the messages of our senses to provide order and meaning to the environment
x perception helps sort out and organize the complex and varied input received by senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing
x people frequently base their actions on interpretation of reality that their perceptual system provides, rather than on reality itself
x some of the most important perceptions that influence OB are the perceptions that organizational members have of each other
Components of Perception
x perception has 3 components—a perceiver, a target that is being perceived, and some situational context in which it is occurring
x each of these components influences the perceiver’s impression or interpretation of the target
The Perceiver
x the perceiver’s experience, needs, and emotions can affect his or her perceptions of a target
x one of the most important characteristics of the perceiver that influences his or her impressions of a target is experience
x past experiences lead the perceiver to develop expectations, and these expectations affect current perceptions
x frequently, needs unconsciously influence perceptions by causing people to perceive what they wish to perceive
x emotions, such as anger, happiness, or fear, can influence an individual’s perceptions
x perceptual defence Æ the tendency for the perceptual system to defend the perceiver against unpleasant emotions
The Target
x perception involves interpretation and the addition of meaning to the target, and ambiguous targets are especially susceptible to
interpretation and addition—perceivers have a need to resolve such ambiguities
x the perceiver does nor or cannot always use all the information provided by the target
x in these cases, a reduction in ambiguity might not be accompanied by greater accuracy
The Situation
x every instance of perception occurs in some situational context, and this context can affect what one perceives
x the most important effect that the situation can have is to add information about the target
Social Identity Theory
x social identity theory Æ a theory that states that people form perceptions of themselves based on their characteristics and
memberships in social categories; as a result, sense of self is composed of a personal identity and a social identity
x an individual’s personal identity is based on the individual’s unique characteristics, such as interests, abilities, and traits
x an individual’s social identity is based on the individual’s perception of the various social groups that he or she belongs to, such
as gender, nationality, religion, occupation, and so on
x in addition to forming self-perceptions based on an individual’s social memberships, they also form perceptions of others based
on their memberships in social categories because social identities are relational and comparative
x in other words, people define members of a category relative to members of other categories
x social identity helps people understand how the components of the perceptual system operate in the formation of perceptions
x if the situation changes, so might the categorization and the relation between the perceiver and the target
x because people tend to perceive members of their own social categories in more positive and favourable ways than those who are
different and belong to other categories, social identity theory is useful for understanding stereotyping and discrimination
A Model of the Perceptual Process
x according to Jerome Bruner, when the perceiver encounters an unfamiliar target, the perceiver is very open to the informational
cues contained in the target and the situation surrounding it
x in this unfamiliar state, the perceiver really needs information on which to base perceptions of the target and will actively seek
out cues to resolve this ambiguity; but, gradually, the perceiver encounters some familiar cues that enable her or him to make a
crude categorization of the target, which follows from social identity theory
x at this point, cue search becomes less open and more selective as perceiver begins to search out cues that confirm categorization
x as this categorization becomes stronger, the perceiver actively ignores or even distorts cues that violate initial perceptions
x this does not mean that early categorization cannot be changed; yet, it does mean that it will take a good many contradictory cues
before one re-categorizes the target, and that these cues will have to overcome the expectations that have been developed
x Bruner’s model demonstrates 3 important characteristics of the perceptual process:
1) perception is selective—perceivers do not use all the available cues, and those they do use are thus given special emphasis
2) perceptual constancy refers to the tendency for the target to be perceived in the same way over time or across situations
3) perceptual consistency refers to the tendency to select, ignore, and distort cues in such a manner that they fit together to
form a homogenous picture of the target
Basic Biases in Person Perception
x because real world lacks ideal conditions, impression that people form of others are susceptible to a number of perceptual biases
Primacy and Recency Effects
x primacy effect Æ the tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first impressions; has a lasting impact
x primacy is a form of selectivity, and its lasting effects illustrate the operation of constancy
x recency effect Æ the tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last impressions
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Reliance on Central Traits
x central traits Æ personal characteristics of a target person that are of particular interest to a perceiver
x the centrality of traits depends on the perceiver’s interests and the situation
x central traits often have a very powerful influence on people’s perception of others
x physical appearance is a common central trait in work settings that is related to a variety of job-related outcomes
x in general, research shows that conventionally attractive and tall people are more likely to fare better than unattractive people in
terms of a variety of job-related outcomes, including employment potential, getting hired, being chosen as a business partner,
given good performance evaluations, or being promoted
Implicit Personality Theories
x implicit personality theories Æ personal theories that people have about which personality characteristics go together
x to the extent that such implicit theories are inaccurate, they provide a basis for misunderstanding
x projection Æ the tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts and feelings to others
x sometimes, projection is efficient and sensible perceptual strategy as people with similar backgrounds do think and feel similarly
x however, projection can also lead to perceptual difficulties
x in the case of threatening or undesirable characteristics, projection can serve as a form of perceptual defence
x stereotyping Æ the tendency to generalize about people in a certain social category and ignore variations among them
x categories on which people might base a stereotype include race, age, gender, ethnic background, social class, and occupation
x there are 3 specific aspects to stereotyping—(1) distinguishing some category of people; (2) assuming that the individuals in this
category have certain traits; and (3) perceiving that everyone in this category possesses these traits
x people can evoke stereotypes with incredibly little information; however, not all stereotypes are unfavourable
x stereotypes can help develop impressions of ambiguous targets, and people are usually pretty familiar with others in their groups
x language can be easily twisted to turn neutral or even favourable information into a basis for unfavourable stereotypes
x knowing a person’s occupation or field of study often leads to assumptions about his or her behaviour and personality
x however, not all stereotypes are inaccurate as these stereotypes ease the task of developing perceptions of others
Attribution: Perceiving Causes and Motives
x attribution Æ the process by which causes or motives are assigned to explain people’s behaviour
x the attribution process is important because many rewards and punishments in organizations are based on judgments about what
really caused a target person to behave in a certain way
x dispositional attributions Æ explanations for behaviours based on an actor’s personality or intellect
x situational attributions Æ explanations for behaviours based on an actor’s external situation or environment
x research indicates that as an individual gains experience with the behaviour of a target person, 3 implicit questions guide their
decisions as to whether they 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
x consistency cues Æ attribution cues that reflect how consistently a person engages in a behaviour over time
x high consistency leads to dispositional attributions; when behaviour occurs inconsistently, it leads to situational attributions
Consensus Cues
x consensus cues Æ attribution cues that reflect how a person’s behaviour compares with that of others
x unusual, low-consensus behaviour (LCB) leads to more dispositional attributions than typical, high-consensus behaviour
x informational effects of LCB are magnified when actor is expected to suffer negative consequences because of this deviance
Distinctiveness Cues
x distinctiveness cues Æ attribution cues that reflect extent to which person engages in some behaviour across variety of situations
x when a behaviour occurs across a variety of situations, it lacks distinctiveness, and observer is prone to provide a dispositional
attribution about its cause as the behaviour reflects a person’s true motives if it “stands up” in a variety of environments
x when a behaviour is highly distinctive, in that it occurs in only one situation, it is assumed that it is a situational attribute
Biases in Attribution
x there are 3 biases in attribution: the fundamental attribution error, actor-observer effect, and self-serving bias
x fundamental attribution error Æ the tendency to overemphasize dispositional explanations for behaviour at the expense of
situational explanations; often the strong effects that social roles can have on behaviour are discounted
x the fundamental attribution error can lead to problems for managers of poorly performing employees
x it suggests that dispositional reasons for poor performance will sometimes be made even with situational factors are true cause
x actor-observer effect Æ the propensity for actors and observers to view the causes of the actor’s behaviour differently
x specifically, while the observer might be busy committing the fundamental attribution error, the actor might be emphasizing the
role of the situation in explaining his or her own behaviour
x self-serving bias Æ the tendency to take credit for successful outcomes and to deny responsibility for failures
x the self-serving bias can overcome the tendency for actors to attribute their behaviour to situational factors
x self-serving bias can reflect intentional self-promotion or excuse making
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