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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Perception, Attribution and Judgement of Others

Management (MGH)
Course Code
Joanna Heathcote

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Week 2
Chapter 3 – Perception, Attribution, and Judgement of Others
What is Perception?
-Perception – the process of interpreting the messages of our senses to provide order
and meaning to the environment
- People base their actions on interpretation of reality that their perceptual system
provides rather than on reality
- Ex. If you perceive your pay to be low, you might seek a new job but in reality you
are the best paid person in the department, but it will not matter if you are unaware of that or
if you compare yourself to the CEO
Components of Perception
- 3 components – perceiver, target being perceived and some situational context in
which the perception is occurring
- Perceiver’s experience, needs and emotions can affect his or her perceptions of a
- Past experiences lead perceiver to develop expectations that will affect perception
- Our needs unconsciously influence our perceptions by causing us to perceive what we
wish to perceive
- Ex. Perceiver deprived of food will tend to see more edible things in ambiguous
pictures than well-fed observers
- Emotions such as anger, happiness or fear influence our perceptions
- Ex. Upset worker not getting promotion might perceive consolations by another co-
worker as gloating
-Perceptual defence – the tendency for the perceptual system to defend the perceiver
against unpleasant emotions
The Target
- Perception involves interpretation and provide meaning to the target and ambiguous
targets are susceptible to interpretation
- Providing more info about target will not improve perceptual accuracy
- Perceiver does not always use all the info provided by the target
The Situation
- Every instance of perception occurs in some situational context and this context can
affect what one perceives
- May add info about the target
- Ex. Week before decision about promotion – comments from boss means more
Social Identity Theory
- According to the social identity theory – people form perceptions of themselves based
on their characteristics and memberships in social categories
- Our sense of self is composed of a personal identity and a social identity
- Personal identity based on our unique personal characteristics such as interest, traits
- Social identity based on our perception that we belong to various social groups such
as our gender, nationality, occupation etc
- We categorize ourselves and others to make sense of and understand the social

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Week 2
- Choice of specific categories depends on what is most salient and appropriate to
- Once category is chosen, we tend to see members of that category as embodying the
most typical attributes of that category or prototypes
- This way, we develop a sense of who and what we are as well as our values, beliefs
and ways of thinking, acting and feeling
- Social identities are relational and comparative, ex. Category of prof. meaningful to
students in a classroom but outside a classroom, the prof. is perceived as a baby boomer by
- If situation change so might the categorization and relation between the perceiver and
A model of the perceptual process
- Jerome Bruner developed model – when the perceiver encounters and unfamiliar
target, the perceiver is very open to the informational cues contained in the target and the
situation surrounding it
- The perceiver is unfamiliar thus needs info on which to base perceptions of the target
and will actively seek out cues to resolve this ambiguity
- Gradually, perceiver encounters familiar cues that enable her to make a crude
categorization of the target which follows from social identity theory
- The cue search becomes less open and more selective
- Perceiver begins to search out cues that conform the categorization of the target
- As this categorization becomes stronger, the perceiver actively ignores or even
distorts cues that violate initial perceptions
- Early categorization will take many contradictory cues to recategorize the target
- 3 characteristics of perceptual process – selective, constancy, consistency
-Selective perception – perceivers do not use all the available cues and those they do
use are thus given special emphasis
-Constancy – tendency for the target to be perceived in the same way over time or
across situations
-Consistency – tendency to select, ignore and distort cues in such a manner that they fit
together to form a homogeneous picture of the target
Basic Biases in Person Perception (6)
-Primacy effect – the tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first
impressions, often has lasting impact
- Primacy is a form of selectivity and its lasting effects illustrate the operation of
-Recency effect – the tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last
- Ex. Landing big contract today might make up a year of bad performance
-Central traits – personal characteristics of a target person that are of particular
interest to a perceiver
- Centrality of traits depends on perceiver’s interests and the situation
-Implicit personality theories - personal theories that people have about which
personality characteristics go together, Ex. Hardworking people are also honesty
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