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Chapter 3

MGHB02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Dispositional Attribution, Fundamental Attribution Error, Selective Perception

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Brian Connelly

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MGHB02 – Week 3: Perception & Attribution:
Chapter 3: Perception, Attribution, and Diversity (pp. 78-91;101-108):
What is Perception?
-Perception – the process of interpreting the messages of our senses to provide order and meaning to the
oInterpretations  base actions on interpretation of reality that perceptual system provides, rather than
on reality itself
- Most important perceptions that influence OB are the perceptions that orgs members have of each other
- Components of perception:
Experiences, needs, and emotions can affect his/her perceptions of a target
Experience  develop (past) expectations that affect current perceptions
Needs  unconsciously influence our perceptions by causing us to perceive what we wish to
Emotions  (i.e., misperceiving an innocent comment from someone when you’re angry)
Perceptual defence – the tendency for the perceptual system to defend the perceiver against
unpleasant emotions
Interpretation and the addition of meaning to the target
Ambiguous targets  susceptible to interpretation and addition  need to resolve ambiguities
Providing more info about the target will not always improve perceptual accuracy
Perceiver does not/cannot always use all the info provided by the target
Reduction in ambiguity = greater accuracy
Instance of perception occurs in some situational context  can affect what one perceives
Can add info about the target
Perceiver and target are the same but the perception of the target changes with the situation
Social Identity Theory:
-Social identity theory (SIT) – a theory that states that people form perceptions of themselves based on their
personal characteristics and memberships in social categories
oPersonal identity  based on our unique personal characteristics
oSocial identity  based on our perception that we belong to various social groups
- We categorize ourselves and others to make sense of and understand the social environment
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- Choice of specific categories depends on saliency and appropriateness in a situation
oSet category  perceives others/ourselves being members of this category through prototypical
oDevelop sense of who and what we are (values, beliefs, ways of thinking, acting, feeling, etc.)
oPrototypes  something that embodies the most typical attributes of that category
- Social identities are relational and comparative  define members of a category relative to members of other
- SIT helps us understand the components of the perceptual system operate in the formation of perceptions
- Perceive people in terms of attributes and characteristics that we associate with their social category relative to
other categories
- Useful for understanding stereotyping and discrimination
A Model of the Perceptual Process:
- Bruner’s model:
oEncounters an unfamiliar target
oPerceiver really needs info to base perceptions on target  open to info cues contained in the target and
the situation surrounding it
oActively seek cues to resolve ambiguity
oEncounters familiar cues  categorize target  cue search is less open and more selective
oSearch for cues that confirm the categorization of the target
oCategorization becomes stronger  actively ignores/distorts cues that violate initial perceptions
- Demonstrates 3 important characteristics of the perceptual process:
oSelective  perception is efficient but can aid/hinder perceptual accuracy
oConstancy  tendency for the target to be perceived in the same way over time or across situations
oConsistency  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:
-Primacy effect – the tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first impressions
oForm of selectivity and lasting effects illustrate the operation of constancy
-Recency effect – the tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last impressions
-Central traits – personal characteristics of a target person that are of particular interest to a perceiver
oDepends on the perceiver’s interests and the situation
oVery powerful influence on perceptions of others (i.e. physical appearance and attractiveness = good)
-Implicit personality theories – personal theories that people have about which personality characteristics go
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oBasis for misunderstanding (i.e. people of average intelligence tend to be most friendly)
-Projection – the tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts and feelings to others
oCan be efficient and sensible to perceptual strategy in some cases
oCan lead to perceptual difficulties (thinking they would do the same thing as you but didn’t)
oCan serve as a form of perceptual defence with threatening/undesirable characteristics
-Stereotyping – the tendency to generalize about people in a certain social category and ignore variations among
o3 key aspects:
Distinguish some category of people
Assume that the individuals in this category have certain traits
Perceive that everyone in this category possesses these traits
oHelp us develop impressions of ambiguous targets
oHelps us appreciate individual differences among group members
oAccurate stereotypes ease the task of developing perceptions of others
oInaccurate stereotypes develop when we do not have good info about a particular group
oFactors that reinforce inaccurate stereotypes:
Help us process info about others quickly and efficiently
Reinforced by selective perception and the selective application of language
Attribution: Perceiving Causes and Motives:
-Attribution – the process by which causes or motives are assigned to explain people’s behaviour
oImportant process b/c many rewards and punishments in orgs are based on judgments about what
really caused a target person to behave in a certain way
-Dispositional attributions – explanations for behaviour based on an actor’s personality or intellect
-Situational attributions – explanations for behaviours based on an actor’s external situation or environment
- Forced to rely on external cues and make inferences from these cues
- Implicit questions to guide our decisions of attributing behaviours to dispositional or situational causes:
oDoes the person engage in behaviour regularly and consistently? (consistency cues)
oDo most people engage in the behaviour, or is it unique to this person? (consensus cues)
oDoes the person engage in the behaviour in many situations, or is it distinctive to one situation?
(distinctiveness cues)
-Consistency cues – attribution cues that reflect how consistently a person engages in a behaviour over time
oHigh consistency = dispositional attributions
oInconsistency  consider situational attributions
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