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Chapter 4

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Kelley Robinson

Chapter 4: Social Perception 26/10/2013 12:20:00 PM Nonverbal Behaviour  The ability to read nonverbal cues is not limited to members of our species  People are very accurate identifying cats’ emotions when cats are photographed, 2006 University of Québec study  Dogs can read dog nonverbal and human nonverbal better than chimpanzees ( 2005)  Facial electromyography: recording the movements of facial muscles o we automatically mimic other people’s facial expressions, such as happiness, sadness, and disgust (2001) o mimicry effects are especially pronounced when we like the other person or consider them to be a member of our group (2008)–this may reflect empathy (the capacity to feel what someone else is feeling) o mirror neurons: a special kind of brain cell that responds when we perform an action and when we see someone else perform the same action  i.e., When we see someone crying, the nearer neurons fire automatically involuntarily, just as if we were crying ourselves  2003 wicker study: study investigating the role of mirror neurons in the emotion of disgust; using F MRI to look at the pattern of brain cells firing in research participants as they performed two different tasks, smelling disgusting odours, and watching a film of an actor wrinkling his face with a disgusted look–> researchers found that feeling disgusted with himself and observing someone else’s facial expression of disgust activated the same region of the participants bring; this is one way that we are able to connect to each other emotionally  nonverbal cues help people express their emotions attitudes and personality o express anger by narrowing your eyes, lowering your eyebrows, staring intently, and setting your mouth in a thin, straight line o express happiness with smiles and extended eye contact o convey personality trait of being an extrovert with broad gestures and frequent changes in voice pitch and inflection o some nonverbal cues can complement the spoken message or contradict it (like sarcasm, where your tone of voice would contradict what you’re saying) Facial Expressions of Emotion  The facial expressions channel has the longest history of research of all the channels, starting with Darwin’s book in 1872  this privacy is attributable to the exquisite communicativeness of the human face; you can figure out the meaning of facial expressions with very little effort  Darwin believed that the primary emotions conveyed by the face are universal; the idea that all human beings everywhere and code or express emotions in the same way, and all human beings can decode or interpret them with equal accuracy o Darwin thought that nonverbal forms of communication are species–specific and not culture–specific; facial expressions are vestiges of once–useful physiological reactions, for example tasting something terrible and wrinkling your nose in displeasure will communicate to someone else not to eat the food; survival for the species  Six major emotions are universal; anger, happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, and sadness o Ekman/Friesen 1971: traveled to new guinea and studied the Fore; people were almost as accurate as American research participants at matching facial expressions of emotion to stories-> is generally accepted that the ability to interpret the emotions is universal–part of the human, not a product of people’s cultural experience  other emotions have been added the to list of basic emotions, emotions that are involved in social interaction; contempt, pride, embarrassment, anxiety, shame, guilt Are Facial Expressions of Emotion Universal?  Issues concerning universality: accuracy needed to conclude that given facial expression is being perceived in the same way across cultures o i.e., 82% of participants correctly identified happiness, but 54% identified fear, and 44% recognized disgust o i.e., naming of emotions was not as accurate when a list of emotions did not accompany the picture o i.e., emotions are named differently with different context (happy then neutral, neutral is seen as sad) -> ubc students told that a surprised man had just gone through a frustrating situation saw him as angry -> Japanese people focus on emotions in the background people, while westerners focus on the individual’s face Why is Decoding Sometimes Inaccurate?  People frequently display affect blends, where one part of the face is registering one emotion and another part is registering a different emotion  sometimes people try to appear less emotional than they are so that no one will know how they really feel, example if someone says something mean to you, you may hide your hurt feelings, allowing nothing to show on your face -> by suppressing your emotional response, you are not giving your tormentors the satisfaction of knowing he or she has upset you o consequences: in one study, research participants who were told to suppress their emotions while discussing an upsetting topic with a stranger experienced an increase in blood pressure, reported more negative emotions, and felt less rapport with their conversational partner than participants who did not engage in suppression Culture and Nonverbal Communication  display rules are particular to each culture and dictate what kind of emotional expression people are supposed to show o North American cultural norms discourage emotional displays in men, such as grief or crying, but allow the facial display of such emotions in women o traditional Japanese cultural rules dictate that women should not exhibit a wide, uninhibited smile; women might hide their wide smiles behind their hands, while Western women are allowed or encouraged to smile broadly and frequently o in collectivist cultures, the expression of strong negative emotions is discouraged, because to do so can disrupt group harmony -> i.e., Japan and India  other channels of nonverbal communication are shaped by culture as well, such as looking in the eye in North America, but not common in other cultures  cultures also vary in what is considered normative use of personal space, for example in Canada or the United States, most people like to have a bubble of open space, but in other cultures standing right next to each other or touching is considered completely normal o this can lead to misunderstandings when those of different cultures interact -> ex., North American students traveled to Israel, and took part in a dance  Israeli women do not come in close contact with their dancing partners unless they are intimately involved -> when American women danced closely to the Israeli men, the men assumed the women wanted immediate sexual intimacy, and when the Israeli women did not dance close to the American men, the men thought that they had offended the women in some way  Emblems, such as giving the middle finger, the OKAY sign, are gestures with clear , well-understood definitions -> there may be the same emblem in two different cultures, but have two different meanings! Gender and Nonverbal Communication  Studies show that women are superior to men at encoding and decoding o Women are more inept at detecting the truth, while men are more inept at detecting lies -> why? politeness?  According to social role theory, there is a division of labour between men/women -> women work in the home, men outside; CONSEQUENCES! o Gender expectations arise  Attributes consistent with their roles; i.e., women are nurturing and friendly o Men/women develop different skills/attitudes  Based on experiences in their gender roles o Women are less powerful and often are not able to be in high power roles  Important to be accommodating and polite  Testing theory: cross-cultural study of politeness pattern -> women in countries where they were oppressed exhibited more politeness pattern than in non-oppressed countries Implicit Personality Theories: Filling in the Blanks  A schema used to determine qualities of a person; i.e., a kind person is also generous, and a stingy person is also irritable -> people’s ideas of what personality traits go together  Advantage -> extrapolate large amount of information from small amount fairly quickly  Disadvantage -> make false assumptions, such as condom use (if the partner did not dress provocatively and was from a small town, it was assumed that they did not need to use condoms; putting them at risk for HIV/AIDS) -> not accurate indicators Culture and Implicit Personality Theories  Implicit personality theory is tied to culture, and passed down through generations o i.e., “what is beautiful is good” to Americans -> study where positive attributes were given to attractive people o i.e., in collectivist cultures (China), judgements are based on group-related attributes (family, position in social group)  different cultures have different ideas about personality types, i.e., Western personality type of “artistic”, and Chinese personality type of “shi gu” (family oriented, worldly, socially skilful) o in study where people were described using traits that were attributed to these types without using the type name, participants filled in the blanks with traits consistent with each personality type/schema (English, + chinese/eng biling.)  the language people speak influences the way they think about the world; identical descriptions of characters were perceived differently by bilingual groups, depending on the language described in Causal Attribution: Answering the “Why” Question  Even though we can decode nonverbal behaviour and use implicit personality theory to streamline the way we form impressions, there is still substantial ambiguity as to what a person’s behaviour really means  We use our immediate observations to form more elegant and complex inferences about what people are really like and what motivates them to act as they do -> attribution theory The Nature of the Attributional Process  “naïve” or “common sense” psychology by Heider, 1958 -> people are amateur scientists, trying to understand other people’s behaviour by piecing together information o Heider intrigued by what seems reasonable to people + how they arrive at their conclusions  Father yelling at daughter, simple dichotomy, make one of two attributions: o Internal attribution  Cause of behaviour is something about the father – his disposition, personality, attitude or character  Decision that the father has poor parenting skills + disciplines child in inappropriate way o External attribution  Cause of behaviour is something about the situation  Decision that he yelled at daughter because she stepped into the street without looking o People generally prefer making internal attributions -> focus on people, not situations The Covariation Model: Internal versus External Attributions  We notice and think about more than one piece of information when we form an impression of another person -> covariation model states that we examine multiple instances of behaviour, at different times, in different situations, and see how a person’s behaviour “covaries” or changes across time/place/diff actors/diff targets  We need 3 types of info: CONSENSUS, DISTINCTIVENESS, CONSISTENCY o CONSENSUS -> do other people behave in the same way to the same stimulus? o DISTINCTIVENESS -> does the actor behave in the same way to different stimuli? o CONSISTENCY -> does the actor behave in the same way to the same stimulus across time/situations? (frequency)  Ex. Boss yelling at your co-worker…why?  Consensus: do other people at work also yell at your co-worker?  Distinctiveness: does the boss yell at all employees?  Consistency: does the boss always yell at your co- worker, regardless of situation?  To make an attribution, there are two patterns that can emerge: o All variables high = external attribution o Consensus + distinctiveness low, and consistency high = internal attribution o Low consistency, high or low other variables = situational attribution  i.e., internal for co-worker: consensus low (no one else yells at her), distinctiveness low (same as usual, boss yells at all employees, not distinct), consistency high (yells at her all the time) -> about the BOSS  i.e., external for her: consensus high (everyone yells at her), distinctiveness high (the boss does not yell at other employees), consistency high (yells at her all the time) -> about the EMPLOYEE  i.e., situational: consensus + distinctiveness high OR low, consistency low (first time it had happened) -> peculiar circumstance/situation  studies s
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