Social Perception & Attribution Factors Influencing Individual Behavior
Perception: The process of interpreting one’s environment. A rational process that enables us to
interpret and understand our surroundings.
Social Cognition: How people perceive one another (social information processing).
Process underlying perception involves a 4 STAGE SEQUENCE:
Stage 1: Selective Attention/Comprehension
Attention: Being consciously aware of something or someone. Comes in 2 forms, information from the
environment or from memory.
Salient (Noticeable) Stimuli: Something that stands out from its context.
Example: A driver with his gas gauge on empty, a Petro-Canada sign is more salient (noticeable) than a
McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s.
People have the tendency to pay more attention to negative than positive information.
Stage 2: Encoding and Simplification
Information is not stored in its original form. Encoding is required.
Schema: Mental picture of an event of object. To make a schema meaningful, rational category labels
Example: Sports car, if you picture a 2 door, small red colors vehicle a sports car. That is your schema,
means you will interpret all red, small 2 door cars sports cars.
Varying interpretations of what we observe occur due to four key reasons:
1) Different information in the schema
2) Moods and Emotions influence our focus of attention and evaluations of others
3) People tend to apply recently-used rational categories during encoding.
a. You would more likely interpret a natural behavior exhibited as positive if you were
recently thinking about positive categories and events.
4) Individual differences influence encoding.
a. Pessimistic or depress individuals tend to interpret their surroundings more
negatively than optimistic and happy people do. Stage 3: Storage and Retention
This stage involves storage of information in long-term memory.
Event Memory; Contains information about specific and general events. Going to a restraint, going to
job interview, going to a food store or going to a movie.
Semantic Memory; General knowledge about the world. Functions as a mental dictionary of concepts.
Each concept contains a definition and associated traits.
Person Memory; Contain information about a single individual or groups of people.
Stage 4: Retrieval and Response
People retrieve information from memory when they make judgments and decisions.
Based on either:
The process of drawing on, interpreting, and integrating categorical information stored in long-
Retrieving a summary judgment that was already made. Example: New boss was accused but
not found guilty of workplace bullying.
Interviewers make hiring decisions based on their impression of how an applicant fits the
perceived requirements of a job.
Implicit Cognition: Any thought or belief that is automatically activated without conscious
o Many hiring decisions are made by implicit cognition
Enables people to make biased decisions without understanding that such is
To reduce implicit cognition experts recommend 2 solutions:
o Train managers to understand and reduce this type of hidden bias
o Use structured as opposed to unstructured interviews. Rely on multiple interviewers.
Faulty perception about what constitutes good versus poor performance can lead to inaccurate
performance appraisals, which erode work motivation, commitment and loyalty.
Evaluate employee in the beginning of the review cycle to serve as a benchmark.
Objective, quantifiable (attendance records) are better than Subjective, qualitative (bias). Individuals can be trained to more accurately rate performance.
Employees’ evaluations of leader effectiveness are influenced strongly by their schemata of
good and poor leaders.
o Assigning specific tasks to group members
o Telling others that they had done well
o Setting specific goals for the group
o Letting other group members make decisions
o Trying to get the group to work as a team
o Maintaining definite standards of performance
o Telling others that they had performed poorly
o Insisting on having their own way
o Doing things without explaining themselves
o Expressing worry over the group members’ suggestions
o Frequently changing plans
o Letting the details of the task become overwhelming
Communication and Interpersonal Influence
Avoid these 4 behavioral tendencies that are negatively perceived when trying to influence
o Being a pushover
Giving up on an idea rather than defending it.
o Being a robot
Communication style and approach that is too rigid. Provide a specific answer
that responds to the persons concerns.
o Being a used-car sales associate
Too pushy, close-minded, and argumentative.
o Being a charity case
Desperation and pleading
Workplace Aggression, Bullying, and Antisocial Behavior
Such behaviors are based on employee’s perceptions of the work environment.
o When treated unfairly.
Physical and Psychological Well-Being
Negativity bias can lead to both physical and psychological problems.
o Linked to asthma and depression. Attempt to avoid the tendency of giving negative thoughts too much attention.
STEREOTYPES AND OTHER PERCEPTUAL ERRORS: