Social PSYC 3330 ch 4 social perception

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Social Psychology
Chapter 4
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Nonverbal Communication

communication using body movements, gestures, and facial expressions rather than speech



To interpret the meaning of other peoples nonverbal communications



To express nonverbal behavior e.g. smiling


Universal emotional expressions

Anger, happiness, surprise, fear, disgust and sadness. The ability to interpret these is cross cultural - a part of being human and not people's cultural experience


Affect Blend

A facial expression in which one part of the face registers one emotion while another part of the face registers a different emotion


Display rules

are particular to each culture and dictate what kinds of emotional expressions people are supposed to show



They are not universal, but they are non-verbal gestures that have well understood meaning within a particular culture, with often direct verbal translations.


Implicit Personality Theory

A type of schema people use to group various kinds of personality traits together, e.g. if you are view as kind you are also likely to be viewed as generous.


Attribution Theory

A description of the way in which people explain the cause of their own and other people's behavior


Internal Attribution

Inferring that a person is behaving in a certain way based on something about the person, such as attitude, character or personality


External Attribution

Inferring that a person is behaving a certain way because of something about the situation he/she is in, the assumption that mist people who behave that way in that situation


Covariation Model

Kelly's theory says that you will examine multiple instances of behavior, occurring at different times and in different situations, to answer a question about another person



Information When other people behave the same way towards the same stimulus, Do other people at work always yell at Hannah?

High = yes other yell at her

Low= no other don't


Distinctiveness High = yes is distinctive(behavior only done to certain actor)

Information One person's behaves that way to different stimulus, Does the Boss yell at other people too? (counter intuitive)

High = does not yell at other

Low = yells at others



Information One person behaves that way to one particular stimulus, Does the Boss yell at Hannah frequently?

High = consistent across time

low = doesnt happen a lot


Perceptual Salience

the seeming importance of information that is the focus of people's attention. This (our visual view point) helps EXPLAIN why the fundamental attribution error is so widespread. We focus our attention more on people than the surrounding situation because the situation is so hard to see or know; we underestimate or even forget about the influence of the situation when we are explaining human behavior.


Two-Step Process of Attribution

We first make automatic internal attributions and only after think about possible situational reasons which may adjust our attribution (most people do not adjust enough)


Bias Blind Spot

The tendency to think other people are more susceptible to attribution biases in their thinking than we are


Belief in a Just World

A form of defensive attribution, assumes that bad things happen to bed people. This belief keeps anxiety-provoking thoughts about one's own safety at bay, maintaining the vision of life as safe, orderly and predictable.


Top Down processing

Using preconceived ideas and schemas as the basis for impression formation


Bottom up processing

Gathering individual observations of a person in order to form an overall impression



automatically perceive certain basic characteristics about a person and then infer that the individual will share the features that we associate with other people like him or her.


Exceptions to Covariation

1.tend to rely more on consistency and distinctiveness infothan on consensus information.

2. just work with whatever information they have.

3.Sometimes people (have to) rely on ‘shortcuts’ in the attribution process


‘Actor/Observer Difference’

tendency to see other people’s behaviour internally explained , while focusing more on the role of situational factors when explaining one’s own behaviour


Defensive Attributions

The more threatened we feel by an apparent injustice, the greater is the need to protect ourselves from the dreadful implication that it could happen to us. explain away my saying karma will make things good, distance self from victim/incident, higher powers in control


Self-serving Bias

Explanations for one’s successes that credit internal, dispositional factors and explanations for one’s failures that blame external, situational factors


STUDY Fundamental ATT error by Jones and Harris (1967)

Participants read an essay written by a college student that either favored or opposed Fidel Castro half told topic chosen/assigned, resulted with internal Att, disregard situation "assigned" relying on internal more and not external

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STUDY Manipulating Perceptual Salience (Taylor & Fiske, 1975)

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This is the seating arrangement for two actors and the six research participants. Participants rated each actor’s impact on the conversation. Researchers found that people rated the actor they could see more clearly as having the larger role in the conversation.


STUDY Cultural Context for decoding Masuda and colleagues (2008)

Japan/America the meaning of the cartoon character’s facial expression depended more on his “context”(if other character were also smiling/frowning) for japan grp. backed up by more studies looking at brain scans showing more thinking when using more holistic context dependent thinking for N/A but was opposite for Asian.


Covariation internal Attribution

Consensus = low, Distinctiveness = low, Consistency = high

Eg boss" fault


Covariation External Attribution

Consensus = high, Distinctiveness = high , Consistency = high

Eg Hannah's Fault


Covariation something peculiar about the particular circumstances

Consensus = high/low, Distinctiveness = high/low , Consistency = low

Eg weird situation


Covariation actor

the person whose behavior we are trying to explain


Covariation Stimulus

what the the person whose behavior we are trying to explain is reacting to