Chapter 4: Social Cognition and Person Perception
1IMPRESSION FORMATION: The process by which we integrate different types of
information about another person into an overall judgment.
Two noteworthy parts of this definition:
1. Integrative: information about a person is interpreted within the context of all over
information that we have about him or her.
2. Dynamic: involves both explicit and implicit cognition, and judgments are continually
updated in response to new information.
We constantly engage in non-verbal behaviors, traits, and behaviors, whereby we update our
ideas based on new information.
1Nonverbal behaviors of others shape our impressions of them. We often base our first
impressions from non-verbal behavior.
- Nonverbal behavior: communicating feelings and intentions without words.
Examples: Smiling, walking with a bounce in one’s step.
• Facial expressions play an important role in non-verbal communication.
• At least 6 facial expressions seem to be innate. What are they? Anger, disgust, fear,
happiness, surprise, sadness.
• Facial expressions are brief/long, and they are easy/hard to produce.
- Decoding: the ability to interpret the message conveyed by others’emotional reactions.
1Who is better at decoding nonverbal communication? Women
Positive vs. Negative Nonverbal Communication
2Do we pick out happy or sad faces more easily from a crowd of faces? Sad faces.
1“Survival Value” Hypotheses: attending to facial expressions allows people to
predict behavioral intentions and understand how others are interpreting the
- Can you control Nonverbal Expression? Yes, to some extent.
2 - Who expresses emotion better? Women.
3 - What type of emotion do men express better? Manly emotion. 3Nonverbal Leakage: consciously inhibiting emotional expression in some channels of
communication will lead to expression in other nonverbal channels.
4Non-conscious Mimicry: the tendency to adopt the behaviors, postures, or mannerisms
of interaction partners without conscious awareness or intention.
1Examples? Shaking your foot when someone else is doing it, yawning when
someone else yawns.
Culture & Gender influence the expression of nonverbal cues.
5Social Role: a cluster of socially defined expectations that individuals in a given
situation are expected to fulfill.
6Social Role Theory: the theory that virtually all of the documented behavioral
differences between males and females can be accounted for in terms of cultural
stereotypes about gender and the resulting social roles that are taught to the young.
2Does the expression of emotion depend on the social situation? Yes.
1So...do we express positive emotions more/less when we are socially interacting?
4Most of us are poor deception detectors! But it depends on: relevant information gained
about the people lying and about the social context.
1Polygraph: lie detector test; responds to changes in physiological arousal.
2Traits as a basis for Impression Formation - Who was the first to study this? SolomanAsch
1He believed that impressions are unified (made into an integrative narrative)
2Gestalt Perspective: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
3Change-of-Meaning Effect: individual traits have different meanings in different contexts.
Class Example: Rate 0-10 how favorably you feel about:
1Mother Theresa, Ghandi, George W. Bush- GWB is often rated low.
2Hitler, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush- GWB is often rated high.
2Clearly demonstrates that personality impressions are strongly influenced by the
context in which information is presented.
3What are two basic principles of Person Perception? 1. Primacy Effect: information that is received early will have more influence on our
perceptions of a person than information that is received later.
-What activity from class shows this? Ordering traits from good to bad or bad to
good and then determining which type of person we thought was being
2. Trait Centrality: traits that have more impact on our impressions than others.
-What activity from class shows this? Including “warm” and “cold” in a list of
traits; this resulted in many favoring that which included the “warm” trait.
4We often seek information to confirm our first impressions.
1The tendency to seek information that supports our beliefs while ignoring disconfirming
information is known as: confirmation bias.
5Why does a little bit of information about a person lead us to make inferences about other
aspects of the person’s personality?
1Implicit Personality Theory: assumptions that people make about which personality traits
2Halo Effect: people assume that a person who possesses a positive trait also possesses
other positive traits.
* Physical appearance can create halo effects.
Anthromorphism: attribution of human-like characteristics to an object, animal, etc.
Example from class? The video which depicted several shapes moving about the screen.
1Attribution Theory is NOT concerned with the actual causes but with perceived causes.
2InternalAttribution: an attribution that locates the cause of an event to factors internal to
the person, such as personality, traits, moods, attitudes, abilities, or effort.
3ExternalAttribution: an attribution that locates the cause of an event to factors external to
the person, such as luck, other people, or the situation.
Why are people motivated to make attributions?
1. We have a desire to make sense of things.
2. People want to form a coherent view of the world. 3. People want to have some control over their environment (predictability).
4Heider - everybody has a general theory of huma