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Chapter 3

MGHB02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Fundamental Attribution Error, Dispositional Attribution, Subjective Constancy

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Melissa Warner

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Chapter 3 | Perception, Attribution and Diversity
Chapter 3: Perception, Attribution, and Diversity
What is Perception?
oProcess of interpreting the messages of our senses to provide order and meaning
to the environment.
Key word is interpreting
People frequently base their actions on the interpretation of reality that
their perceptual system provides, rather than on reality itself.
Perceive that your pay is low seek work at another firm.
oSorts out and organize the complex and varied input received by our senses of
sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing.
oThree components to perception
Target being perceived
Some situational context in which the perception is occurring
These components each influences the perceiver’s impression or
interpretation of the target.
oFactors that influence perception
The Perceiver
oPerceivers experience, needs, and emotions can affect his or her perceptions of a
One of the most important characteristics of the perceiver that influences
his or her impressions is experience.
oPast experiences lead the perceiver to develop expectations, and
these expectations affect current perceptions. (Exhibit 3.2 Page 81)
Needs unconsciously influence our perceptions by causing us to perceive
what we wish to perceive.
oResearch has shown that perceivers who have been deprived of
food will tend to “see” more edible things in ambiguous pictures
than will well-fed observers.
Emotions, such as anger, happiness, or fear, can influence our perceptions.
oA worker who is upset about not getting a promotion might
perceive the consolation provided by a co-worker as gloating
oOppositely, a worker who does get a promotion fails to notice how
upset her co-worker is because he was not the one promoted.

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Chapter 3 | Perception, Attribution and Diversity
oOur perceptual system serves to defend us against unpleasant
emotions. This is called perceptual defence. “We see what we
want to see, hear what we want to hear.
The Target
oPerception involves interpretation and addition of meaning to the target, and
ambiguous targets are especially susceptible to interpretation and addition.
oPerceivers have to need to resolve such ambiguities.
Tempted to believe that providing more information about the target will
improve perceptual accuracy, which is not the case.
Writing clearer memos might not always get the message across.
Assigning minority workers to a prejudiced manager will not always
improve his or her perceptions of their true abilities.
The Situation
oEvery instance of perception occurs in some situational context and this context
can affect what one perceives.
oThe most important effect that the situation can have is to add information about
the target.
Imagine a casual critical comment about your performance from your boss
the week before she is to decide whether or not you’ll be promoted. You
will likely perceive this comment differently from how you would if you
weren’t up for promotion.
Social Identity Theory
Social Identity Theory
oTheory that states that people form perceptions of themselves based on their
personal characteristics and memberships in social categories.
oOur sense of self is composed of a personal identity and a social identity. These
two things help answer the question, “Who am I?”
oPersonal Identity
Based on our unique personal characteristics, such as interests, abilities,
and traits.
oSocial Identity
Based on our perception that we belong to various social groups, such as
our gender, nationality, religion, occupation, and so on.
oAs individuals, we categorize ourselves and others to make sense of, and,
understand the social environment. The choice of specific categories depends on
what is most salient and appropriate to the situation.
For example, we might define people in a meeting according to their job
Once a category is chosen, we tend to see members of that category as
embodying the most typical attributes of that category, or what are called
Similarly, once we locate ourselves in a social category we tend to
perceive ourselves as embodying the prototypical characteristics of
the category.
oIn this way, we develop a sense of who and what we are, as
well as our values, beliefs, and ways of thinking, acting and

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Chapter 3 | Perception, Attribution and Diversity
oSocial identity theory helps us understand how the components of the perceptual
system operate in the formation of perceptions.
We perceive people in terms of the attributes and characteristics that we
associate with their social category relative to other categories.
Thus, your perception of others is a function of how you categorize
yourself (e.g. student) and your target (e.g. professor). If the
situation changes, so might the categorization and the relation
between the perceiver and the target.
oMedical students in the hospital are doctors to patients, but
remain students to their professors.
oPeople 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.
Model of the Perceptual Process
Created by Jerome Bruner, demonstrating how the perceiver goes about putting together
information contained in the target and the situation to form a picture of the target.
oWhen the perceiver encounters an unfamiliar target, the perceiver is open to the
informational cues contained in the target and the situation surrounding it.
oPerceiver really needs information on which to base perceptions of the target and
will actively seek out cues to resolve this ambiguity.
oGradually, the perceiver encounters some familiar cues that enable her or him to
make a crude categorization of the target, following social identity theory.
oCue search becomes less open and more selective.
oPerceive begins to search out cues that confirm the categorization of the target.
As the categorization becomes stronger, the perceiver actively ignores or
even distorts cues that violate initial perceptions.
It will take a good man contradictory cues before one re-
categorizes the target, and that these cues will have to overcome
the expectations that have been developed
Brumer’s model demonstrates three important characteristics of the perceptual process.
oFirst, perception is selective .
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