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Chapter 3

BU288 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Subjective Constancy, Dispositional Attribution, Fundamental Attribution Error

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Simon Taggar

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BU288: Chapter 3
Perception, Attribution, and Diversity
Perception: The process of interpreting the messages of our sense to provide order and meaning to
the environment.
People frequently base their actions on the interpretation of reality that their perceptual
system provides, rather than on reality itself
THREE COMPONENTS A perceiver, a target that is being perceived, and some
situational context in which the perception is occurring.
The Perceiver
Perceptions are affected by:
o Experience which leads to expectations
o Motivational State / Needs perceive what we wish to perceive (ex- food when
o Emotional State
Perceptual Defence: The tendency for the perceptual system to defend the perceiver against
unpleasant emotions.
The Target
Perception involves interpretation and the addition of meaning to the target
Perceivers have a need to resolve ambiguities
Reduction in ambiguity is not always accompanied by greater accuracy; can’t always use all
the information provided
The Situation
Most important effect = add information about the target
Social Identity Theory: A theory that states that people form perceptions of themselves based on
their personal characteristics and memberships in social categories.
Our sense of self is composed of a personal identity and a social identity
Personality Identity: Comprised on our unique personal characteristics, such as our interests,
abilities and traits.
Social Identity: Based on our perception that we belong to various social groups, such as our
gender, nationality, religion, occupation etc.
We categorize ourselves and others to make sense of and understand the social
environment: Choice of specific categories depends on what is most salient and appropriate
to the situation
Prototypes: Typical attributes of a category
Social identities are relative and comparative (Professor vs. Neighbour)
Perception of others is a function of how you categorize yourself and your target
A Model of the Perceptual Process
Jerome Bruner
o When a perceiver encournters an unfamiliar target, they are very open to the
informational cues contained in the target and the situation surrounding it
o Gradually they encounter some familiar cues, that enable them to make crude
o At this point cue search becomes less open and more selective
o Percievers searches out cues that confirm the categorinzation
o Eventually ignores cues that violate initial perceptions
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Unfamiliar Target Encountered Openness to Target Cues Familiar Cues Encountered Target
Categorized Cue Selectivity Categorization Strengthened
The model demonstrates 3 important characteristics of the perceptual process:
1. Selective Don’t use all available cues
2. Perceptual Constancy (Tendency for target to be perceived in the same way over time or
across situations)
3. Perceptual Consistency (Refers to the tendency to select, ignore, and distoet cues in such a
manner that they fir together to form a homogenous picture of the target.
Basic Biases in Person Perception
Impressions that we form of others are susceptible to a number of perceptual biases
Primacy Effect: The tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues of first impressions.
A form of selectivity, and its lasting effects illustrate the operation of constancy
Recency Effect: The tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last impressions.
People give undue weight to the cues they encountered most recently
Reliance on Central Traits
Central Traits: Personal characteristics of a target person that are of particular interest to a
perceiver. (EX: physical appearance)
People tend to organize their perceptions around central traits
EX: Looking at new co worker consider intellectual capacity
Depends on perceiver’s interests and the situation
Implicit Personality Theories: Personal theories that people have about which personality
characteristics go together.
Projection: The tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts and feelings to others.
Assume that others are like you
In case of undesirable characteristics, it might serve as a form of perceptual defence (I steal,
but so does everyone else)
Stereotyping: The tendency to generalize about people in a certain social category and ignore
variations among them.
We distinguish some category of people
We assume the indiiduals in this category have certain traits
We perceive that everyone in this category possess these traits
A couple of factors work to reinforce inaccurate stereotypes
o Incorrect stereotypes help us process information about others quickly and
efficientl (Sometimes easier to rely on sterotype than to discover true nature of
o Omaccurate stereotypes are often reinforced by selective perception and the
selection application of language that was discussed above
Attribution: Perceiving Causes and Motives
Attribution: The process by which causes or motives are assigned to explain people’s behaviour.
Dispositional Attributions: Explanations for behaviour based on an actor’s personality or intellect.
(Ex- behaviour as a function of laziness)
Situational Attributions: Explanations for behaviour based on an actor’s external situation or
environment. (Ex- bad weather, good luck, poor advice)
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