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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

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Chapter 4Social Perception How We Come to Understand Other PeopleNonverbal Behaviour Physical characteristics such as attractiveness influence the way we judge others We pay a great deal of attention to what people say Nonverbal Communication The way people communicate intentionallyunintentionally without word nonverbal cues includes facial expressions tone of voice gestures body position and movement the use of touch and eye gaze We automatically mimic other peoples facial expressions such as happiness sadness and disgust Researchers suggest that humans and primates havre a special kind of brain cell called mirror neuronsthey respond when we perform an action and when we see someone perform the same action ie when we se someone crying these mirror neurons fire automatically and involuntarily just as if we were crying ourselves One way of connecting with each other emotionally is through the activation of mirror neurons Vittorio Gallese says We dont have to think about what other people are feeling we simply know Nonverbal cues serve many functions in communication They help people express their emotions attitudes and personality ie if you express Im angry by narrowing your eyes lowering your eyebrows staring intently and setting your mouth in a thin straight line You convey the attitude I like you with smiles and extended eye contactFacial Expressions of Emotion The crown jewel of nonverbal communications is the facial expression channelhas the longest history of research beginning with Charles Darwins 1872 book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animalsits primacy is attributable to exquisite communicativeness of the human face Darwins research on facial expressionshis belief that primary emotions conveyed by face are universalthe idea that all human beings encode to expressemit nonverbal behaviour such as smiling or patting someone on the back and all human beings decode to interpret the meaning of nonverbal behaviour other people express such as deciding that a pat on the back was an expressing condescension and not kindness Darwin believe that nonverbal forms of communication were speciesspecific not culturespecific Are facial expression of emotion universal According to Paul Ekman and Walter Friesen the answer is YES at least for 6 major emotions anger happiness surprise fear disgust and sadness Ekman and Friesan 1971 travelled to New Guinea where they studied the decoding ability of the South Fore a preliterate society that had little to do w Western civilization They told Fores brief stories with emotional content and then showed them photographs of American men and women expressing the 6 emotions Fore people were almost as accurate as American research participant had been They then asked the Fore people to demonstrate while being photographed facial expressions that would match the stories they were told When these photographs were shown to American research participants they were also decoded quite accurately Are Facial Expression of Emotion Universal Not all emotion theorists have agreed with Ekmans conclusion that there are 6 or more universal facial expressions 1 issues is the level of accuracy that participant must achieve in order to conclude that a given facial expression is being perceived in the same way across cultures IE Ekman and Friesen 1975 showed picture of 6 basic emotions to participants in USM Brazil Chile Argentina Japan and New Guinea at 82 of participants labeled their happiness facial expression as such However thesewere lower for some of the other emotions ie The fear expressions was identified by 54 of participants in Argentina and New Guinea and 44 for New Guinea participants knew disgust Facial expressions of happiness were identified by majority of respondent in each country where recognition rates for other patients were lower If perception of certain basic emotions is universal people of all cultures should be able to identify these emotions with a relative case This does not seem to be the case In a series of studies from UBC by James Russell and Beverley Fehr the y found that the judgment of a given facial expression depended on what other faces were presented ie if participant were exposed to a hppy face and then a neutral face the neutral face was perceived as sad People in Asian cultures are more influence by the context when interpreting the facial expression of meotion than are Westerners at University of Alberta Takahko Masuda and colleagues found that the facial expression of people in the background influenced the intensity of emotion that Japaense participants perceived in a target individuals face T They focus primarily on the target individuals face consistent with that cultures individualistic ethos Why is Decoding Sometimes Inaccurate Other factors limit the accuracy with which facial expressions are decoded
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