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CHAPTER 4 SOCIAL PERCEPTION: PERCEIVING THE SELF AND OTHERS
What We See in Others: Social Perception
Attribution Theories: Explaining Social Behaviour
- attributions: judgments about why an event occurred or why someone behaved in a
certain way, causal judgments
The Intuitive Scientist
- Harold Kelly suggested that people behave as intuitive scientists in testing everyday
causal questions
- make repeated observations and determine whether certain events or responses
reliably occur under certain conditions
- used when we have multiple observations of several individuals across several
settings
- covariation model of attribution: we make causal judgments by determining whether a
particular behaviour correlated with a person, situation, or some combination of both
The False Consensus Effect
- tendency to assume that other people share our attitudes and behaviours to a greater
extent than is actually the case
- one reason for the bias is that we tend to interact with other people who agree with us
- they arent representative of the general population but we dont always recognize
this fact
- another reason is that we want to believe that others agree with us
- we are motivated to believe that our opinions are accurate and our actions
appropriate
- also evidence that people sometimes underestimate consensus when it makes
them look good e.g. helping a stranded motorist
Discounting and Augmentation
- Kelley (1973) suggested that when we make attributions about a person based on just
one observation, we rely on our knowledge of plausible causes”
- we use our general knowledge to infer one or more causes that might explain the
behaviour and then look to see whether hose plausible causes were present
- plausible internal or dispositional clause, often non-observable e.g. poor driving skill
- plausible external or situational clause, normally observable e.g. bad road conditions
- discounting principle: the perceived role of one cause will be diminished if other
plausible causes are also present
- usually reducing the perceived role of an internal clause because an external
cause is known to be present
- augmentation principle: perceived role of a cause will be augmented if other factors are
present that would work against that behaviour
- behaviour occurring despite presence of difficult inhibitory external circumstances
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The Correspondence Bias: A Fundamental Attribution Error
- the tendency to assume that peoples actions and words reflect their personality,
attitudes, or some other internal factor, rather than external or situation al factors
- represents a failure to use the discounting principle
A Laboratory Demonstration of the Correspondence Bias
- Ross (1977) pairs of students randomly assigned to be the questioner” or contestant
- also group of uninvolved observers watching on videotape
- questioners thought of ten challenging but not impossible questions,
contestants on average answered 4/10
- when later asked to estimate the intelligence of the questioner and contestant,
contestants and uninvolved observers estimated the questioner was more
intelligent than the contestant
- questioners didnt show this bias, perhaps recognizing that everyone know some
relatively obscure knowledge and they appeared intelligent because of their role
Causes of the Correspondence Bias
- we may overlook/be unaware of situational factors influencing other peoples behaviour,
they are often subtle or non-obvious
- we may underestimate the power of situational factors
- the process of taking situational factors into account requires cognitive resources,
which may not always be available
- Daniel Gilbert and colleagues hypothesized that people first assume that the
behaviour reflects the individuals disposition but then adjust this initial assumption
if necessary, based on situational information
- first step is relatively automatic and spontaneous
- second step requires significant cognitive resources making it susceptible to
disruption
Culture and the Correspondence Bias
- possible that emphasis on individualism causes people from Western cultures to focus
on internal, personal variables when explaining behaviour
- most researchers found that Asian participants exhibited significantly weaker
correspondence bias than North American participants
The Appeal of Social Psychology?
- correspondence bias helps to explain why so many findings in social psychology are
surprising; people are surprised by the influence of situational factors
- e.g. Milgrams research on obedience, Latane and Darleys research on bystander
intervention
Beyond Words: Understanding Nonverbal Behaviour
- actions and cues that communicate meaning in ways other than direct verbal statement
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- include facial expressions, vocal qualities like pitch and intensity, interpersonal space,
eye gaze, gestures
Its Not Only What You Say, Its Also How You Say It
- research evidence suggests that when verbal and nonverbal cues directly conflict,
observers rely more on nonverbal cues in interpreting the messages meaning
- research shows that nonverbal information enhances our understanding of interactions
- useful in judging the emotion of speakers
- informative about true feelings because they arent completely under voluntary
control
Developmental Changes in the Weighting of Verbal and Nonverbal Cues
- Morton, Trehub (2001) asked children age4-10 and university students to judge whether
a speaker was feeling happy or sad
- 20 utterances were consistent in verbal and nonverbal cues, 20 werent
- more than 80% of youngest children relied on verbal content to judge emotion
- fell to approx 40% of children age 9,10 and 100% of adults relied exclusively on
nonverbal cues
- demonstrates that children must learn before they can judge appropriately
Facial Expressions
- Darwin (1872) proposed that facial expressions in humans are biologically based and
universal, evolved from more primitive behaviour, ability to recognize emotions in others
faces was adaptive
- hypothesis: people from different cultures should be able to recognize facial
expressions from other cultures relatively accurately
- studies show when participants asked to select which emotion was being expressed
out of a choice of six, all emotions were correctly identified by the majority of participants
from every culture
- but when participants had to generate their own labels, agreement dropped
substantially, especially for negative emotions
- study found that judgment of emotion expressed in a photo was influenced by the other
photos in the same set
- evidence shows there is some universality of emotion recognition
Gender and Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Behaviour
Gender Differences in Nonverbal Behaviour
- researchers have found that women are better judges than men of other peoples
emotions
- may reflect that women are more oriented toward interpersonal harmony than
men, less physical power thus more vulnerable than men
- secondly, womens facial expressions of emotions are generally easier to judge than
mens expressions
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Document Summary

Chapter 4 social perception: perceiving the self and others. Attributions: judgments about why an event occurred or why someone behaved in a certain way, causal judgments. Harold kelly suggested that people behave as intuitive scientists in testing everyday causal questions. Make repeated observations and determine whether certain events or responses reliably occur under certain conditions. Used when we have multiple observations of several individuals across several settings. Covariation model of attribution: we make causal judgments by determining whether a particular behaviour correlated with a person, situation, or some combination of both. Tendency to assume that other people share our attitudes and behaviours to a greater extent than is actually the case. One reason for the bias is that we tend to interact with other people who agree with us. They aren"t representative of the general population but we don"t always recognize this fact. Another reason is that we want to believe that others agree with us.

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