2 Perception In Social Psychology Essay

Submitted By Luke-Blair
Words: 4113
Pages: 17

Social Perception: How We
Come to Understand Other
People

“Things are seldom as they seem.
Skim milk masquerades as cream.”
– W. S. Gilbert
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Other people are not easy to figure out.
Why are they the way they are?
Why do they do what they do?
We all have a fundamental fascination with explaining other people’s behavior, but all we have to go on is observable behavior:






What people do
What they say
Facial expressions
Gestures
Tone of voice

We can’t know, truly and completely, who they are and what they mean.
Instead, we rely on our impressions and personal theories, putting them together as well as we can, hoping they will lead to reasonably accurate and useful conclusions.
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Social Perception

Social Perception
The study of how we form impressions of and make inferences about other people.

Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Nonverbal Behavior
• What do we know about people when we first meet them?
• We know what we can see and hear, and even though we know we should not judge a book by its cover, this kind of easily observable information is crucial to our first impression.
• With no words at all, we can communicate volumes.
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Nonverbal Behavior
Nonverbal Communication
The way in which people communicate, intentionally or unintentionally, without words.
Nonverbal cues include:
• facial expressions
• tone of voice
• gestures

• body position/movement
• the use of touch
• gaze

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Nonverbal Behavior
• We have a special kind of brain cell called mirror neurons.
• These neurons respond when we perform an action and when we see someone else perform the same action.
• Mirror neurons appear to be the basis of our ability to feel empathy.
• For example, when we see someone crying, these mirror neurons fire automatically and involuntarily, just as if we were crying ourselves.
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Nonverbal Behavior
Nonverbal cues serve many functions in communication. • You can express “I’m angry” by narrowing your eyes, lowering your eyebrows, and setting your mouth in a thin, straight line.
• You can convey the attitude “I like you” with smiles and extended eye contact.
• And you communicate your personality traits, like being an extrovert, with broad gestures and frequent changes in voice pitch and inflection.
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Nonverbal Behavior
Some nonverbal cues actually contradict the spoken words.
• Communicating sarcasm is the classic example of verbal-nonverbal contradiction. • Think about how you’d say “I’m so happy for you” sarcastically.

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Facial Expressions of Emotion
Are facial expressions of emotion universal? The answer is yes, for the six major emotional expressions: anger, happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, and sadness.
All humans encode or express these emotions in the same way, and all humans can decode or interpret them with equal accuracy.
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Facial Expressions of Emotion
• Paul Ekman and others have conducted numerous studies indicating that the ability to interpret at least the six major emotions is cross-cultural—part of being human and not a product of people’s cultural experience.

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Facial Expressions of Emotion
• Other emotions such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, and pride occur later in human development and show less universality.
• These latter emotions are closely tied to social interaction.

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Facial Expressions of Emotion
Decoding facial expressions accurately is more complicated than we have indicated, for three reasons. 1.Affect…