MGHB02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Stereotype

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19 Jul 2010
Perception is the process of interpreting the messages of our senses to provide order and
meaning to the environment
People base their actions on the interpretation of reality that their perceptual system
provides, rather than on reality itself
Perceptions that influence organizational behaviour are the perceptions that organizational
members have to each other
Perception has three components
Each of the three components influences the perceiver’s impression or interpretation of the
The Perceiver
Their needs, experience, and emotions can affect their perception of a target
Past experiences lead the perceiver to develop expectations that affect perceptions
Needs unconsciously influence our perceptions by causing us to perceive what we wish to
Emotions can influence our perceptions, as in a innocent comment from a person that gets
us angry
Perceptual Defence is the tendency for the perceptual system to defend the perceiver
against unpleasant emotions
The Target
Ambiguous targets are susceptible to interpretation and the addition of the meaning of the
Providing more information about the target does not always improve perceptual accuracy
The Situation
The most important effect that the situation can have is to add information about the target
Perception of the target changes with the situation
According to Social Identity Theory, people form perceptions of themselves based on their
characteristics and memberships in social categories
o Our sense of self is composed of a personal identity and a social identity
! Personal Identity: is based on our unique personal characteristics
! Social Identity: is based on our perception that we belong to various social
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o We also form perceptions of others based on their memberships in social categories
! We define members of a category relative to members of other categories
Social Identity Theory helps us understand how the components of the perceptual system
operate in the formation of perceptions
o We perceive people in terms of attributes and characteristics that we associate with
their social category relative to other categories
According to 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
o 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
Bruner’s model demonstrates three important characteristics of the perceptual process
o Perception is Selective
! Perceivers do not use all available cues
o Perception constancy
! Refers to the tendency for the target to be perceived in the same way over
time or across situations
o Perceptual Consistency
! Refers to the tendency to select, ignore, and distort cues in such a manner
that they fit together to form a homogeneous picture of the target
Primacy and Recency Effects
Primacy Effect is the tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first impressions
o Often has lasting impact
o Form of selectivity
o Illustrate the operation of constancy
Recency Effect is the tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last impressions
Reliance on Central Traits
Early cues do not always receive equal weight
Central Traits are personal characteristics of a target that are of particular interest to a
o people tend to organize their traits around them
o centrality of traits depends on the perceiver’s interests and the situation
o often have a very powerful influence on our perceptions of others
! example: physical appearance
Implicit Personality Theories
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Implicit Personality Theories are personal theories that people have about which
personality characteristics go together
o Provide a basis of misunderstanding
People often assume that others are like themselves
Projection is the tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts and feelings to
o Can lead to perceptual difficulties
o Can serve as a form of perceptual defence
Stereotyping is the tendency to generalize about people in a certain social category and
ignore variations among them
o Examples: race, age, gender, ethnic background, social class, occupation, etc
Three aspects to stereotyping
o We distinguish some category of people
o We assume that individuals in this category have certain traits
o We perceive that everyone in this category possess these traits
Stereotypes help us develop impressions of ambiguous targets, and we are usually pretty
familiar with people in our own groups
Not all stereotypes are inaccurate
o However, most are inaccurate
A couple of factors work to reinforce inaccurate stereotypes
o Even incorrect stereotypes helps us process information about others quickly and
o Inaccurate stereotypes are often reinforced by selective perception and selective
application of language
Impression Formation: how we perceive people’s motives
Attribution is the process by which we assign causes or motives to explain people’s
o When making attributions about behaviours, an important goal is to determine
whether the behaviour is caused by dispositional or situational factors
Dispositional Attributes are explanations for behaviour based on an actor’s personality or
o Example: intelligence, greed, laziness
Situational Attributes are explanations for behaviour based on the actor’s external
situation or environment
o Example: bad weather, good luck, proper tools, poor advice
Consistency Cues
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