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Social Psychology- Chapter 4

Social Perception
The process by which people come to understand one another (traits/behaviors)
-Three elements of social perception:
1) The people- first impressions, indirect clues
2) The situation- scripts
3) The behavior- units of behavior, mind perception, non-verbal behavior
First Impressions
-Subtly influenced by appearance
*Snap judgements
-Read traits from faces
Snap judgements
(First impressions - people)
-Show people picture for as little as .1 seconds, ask person to identify what characteristics that person has (what their personality is)
-Judging character from someone's appearance.
*Baby face= large round eyes, round cheeks, large forehead, rounded chain.
-Read traits from faces
*Baby face= tend to think these people are trustworthy and warm; also submissive
*Mature face: dominant and competent (small eyes, small forehead, angular chin)
-Read traits INTO faces, based on prior information
*If kind- perceive person as having more of a baby face.
(First impression on people- Konrad Lorenz)
-We have a baby schema: large hard, large-low lying, eyes, bulging cheek region
-Triggers an affectionate, nurturing response
**Based on organizing principle: implicit reaction (not aware, just happens)
Indirect Cues
(Perceiving PEOPLE)
-People make pretty accurate impressions of others based on their:
1) Room
2) Facebook profile
3) Music
- A person and their friend rate their personality
- Stranger rates same person's personality after looking at their room.
*Result: strangers' ratings are very close to self ratings and friends.
(Perceiving SITUATION)
-Present notions about certain situations.
-Help us anticipate the goals, behaviors, and outcomes likely to occur in a particular setting (ex. restaurant script)
Scripts' influence on social perception
-We sometimes see what we expect to see in a particular situation.
*Trope's ambiguous emotion studies:
--Show participants' photos of human faces with ambiguous expressions; when told that the person in the photo was being threatened by a vicious dog- they saw the facial expression as fearful; when told that the individual had just won money, they saw the expression of happiness.
-We use what we know about the situation to explain behavior.
*Actions are more informative when they depart from the norm.
Ex) We expect people to be outgoing at college parties and calm in class= Norm
*If person's calm at party and crazy in class we use the situation to guide our perceptions about that person; learn more about the person.
Units of Behavior
We derive meaning from observations by dividing the continuous stream of behavior into discrete units.
-The smaller the units, the more meaningful and memorable the behavior becomes.
Mind Perception
(Behavior-Social Perception)
-Process of attributing humanlike mental states to animate and inanimate objects.
-The more humanlike something is, the more likely we are to think about it in human terms.
*People perceive minds along two dimensions: agency (target's ability to plan and execute behavior) and experience (capacity to feel pleasure, pain and other sensations).
Nonverbal behavior
-Behavioral cues that are used to identify a person's inner states as well as their actions without words.
-People use:
*Facial expressions
*Body language
*Eye Contact
6 Basic Emotions
1) Happiness
2) Sadness
3) Surprise
4) Anger
5) Fear
6) Disgust
-All cultures have the same emotions/express them in the same way.
How good are people at identifying emotions in the face?
-Best at identifying happiness.
Elicitors of disgust
1) Food
-Rotten/spoiled food
-Culture dictates the appropriate foods to eat.
2) All body products (except tears)- across ALL cultures (we think our body products aren't as gorse as others, same with our babies and romantic partners)
-Feces is the prototypical disgust elicitor
-Developed due to our weakened immune system (keep away from things that make us sick)
3) Body-envelope violations
-Any alteration of our skin/outer surface
-Extreme thinness/obesity; amputations, disfigurations
Disgust (Influence by culture)
Disgust can be influenced by culture:
-Death (dead body)= all cultures are disgusted
*Snakes, spiders, slugs, maggots, cockroaches (every culture doesn't like cockroaches)
1) Moral violations: war, prejudice
2) Sexual taboos: rape, pedophile
-Disgust transmits cultural norms:
-Recruitment of disgust in the moralization of beliefs
*Smoking/vegetarianism (a lot of people created morals when people recruited disgust in their beliefs were better off at quitting)
Facial expressions of disgust
*Only emotion that has 2 facial expressions
1) Prevent entrance into body- scrunch nose, close up mouth
2) Promotes expulsion (get something out of body-throw up face)
Action Tendency when Disgusted
Deception: Typical Study Paradigm
-One group of participants is truthful/deceptive
-Another group tries to evaluate truthfulness
-Only about 50% accurate (were bad at detecting deception)
Why are we bad at detecting liars?
1) Face/Eyes: relatively easy for deceivers to control.
2) Nervous body movements
-Hard to control, but only somewhat more revealing
3) Voice
-Most revealing cue- pitch and hesitations increase when someone is lying.
Can the experts distinguish deception?
College students: 52.8%
CIA/FBI/Military: 55.67%
Police Investigators: 55.79%
Trial Judges: 56.73%
Psychiatrists: 57.61%
Secret Service Agents: 64% ***Significantly better than chance.
-How we EXPLAIN behavior
-How people make dispositional inferences
*Dispositions: stable characteristics such as personality traits, attitudes, and abilities.
Attribution Theories
How we come up with the explanations of human behavior.
Attribution biases
Common problems with our explanations of human behavior
Attribution Theory
-Theory that describes the process by which we make attributions (how we explain causes of people's behavior)
-Group two categories of explanation:
1) Personal attributions
2) Situational attributions
Personal attributions
*Heider- attribution theory
-Someone's behavior is caused by internal characteristics of the person such as ability, personality, mood or effort.
Situational attributions
*Heider-attribution theory
-Someone's behavior is caused by external factors that are uncontrolled by the person such as the task, other people or luck.
Correspondent Inference Theory
*Jones and Davis
-Try to infer if a behavior corresponds to an enduring personal characteristic (disposition) of the actor.
Ex) is the person who commits an act of aggression a beast?
-People make inferences based on 3 factors:
1) Person's degree of choice
*If person freely chose, than it is easier to make a dispositional inference.
2) Expectedness (based on situation)- people are acting in accordance of norms or acting in a socially desirable way.
*If a person does an unexpected behavior, you can make a dispositional inference.
3) Intended effects (whats going to result from behavior)
*If there's only ONE desirable outcome, you can make a dispositional inference.
Kelley's Covariation Theory
-In order for something to be the cause of behavior, it must be present when the behavior occurs and absent when the behavior doesn't occur.
*Look at causes that do/do not covary with the event (go along or don't go along with the event)
-3 Types of Covariation:
1) Consensus
2) Distinctiveness
3) Consistency
(Kelley's Covariation Theory)
-Do others act the same towards X? (See how different persons react to the same stimulus)
*Low: person's behavior is unique (person attribution)
1) Bob gets upset after getting a speeding ticket
*High consensus: most people get angry after getting a ticket.
*External attribute: speeding tickets make people angry
2) Bob is cheerful after getting a speeding ticket
*Low consensus: most people aren't happy after getting a ticket.
*Internal attribute: Bob is a cheerful person
-Do they act different towards X than Y?
(See how the same person reacts to different stimuli)
*Low: does NOT act this way towards everything- than make a personal attribution
1) Steve loves his math class
*Low distinctiveness: Steve loves all of his math classes.
*Internal: steve likes math
*High distinctiveness: Steve doesn't like his other math classes, just this one.
-External: he must have a great teacher.
-Do they always act the same towards X?
(See what happens to the behavior at another time when the person and stimulus both remain the same)
*HIGH: always dislikes or likes X- make a personal attribution.
-My dad told me the guacamole I made was great.
*High: my dad always likes guacamole.
*Internal: My dad likes guacamole.
*Low: My dad doesn't always like guacamole.
*External: I made great guacamole.
Attribution Biases
Biases occur when:
-Little time, motivation and/or cognitive capacity to analyze the behavior.

-People depart from the logic of attribution theory in two major ways: using cognitive heuristics and committing the fundamental attribution error.
False-consensus effect
(Self and Social Projection- under Attribution Biases)
-We overestimate how much others share our opinions, attributes and behaviors.
*We think that people are pretty similar to us, that is because we are using ourself as a standard of reference when were evaluating other people.
-The self influences how we are perceiving other people.
Cognitive Heuristics
People make attributions and other types of social judgements by using certain types of cognitive heuristics.
-Information processing rules of thumb that enable us to think in ways that are quick and easy but that frequently lead to error.
Availability Heuristic
Tendency to estimate the odds that an event will occur by how easily instances of it pop into the mind.
Ex) Asking participants whether words starting with letter R are more common or words that contain R as a third letter are more common.
-Answered that words with letter R at beginning are more common when in reality the answer is that more words in English have R as the third letter.
*It's easier to bring to mind words in which the letter R appears first.
2 Consequences of the Availability Heuristic
1) False-consensus effect
2) Base-Rate Fallacy
Base-rate fallacy
The finding that people are relatively insensitive to consensus information presented in the form of numerical base rates.
-Social perceptions are influenced MORE by one vivid life story than by hard statistical facts.
Ex) why so many people buy lottery tickets despite the low odds of winning and why so many travelers are afraid to fly even though they are more likely to die in a car crash.
Counterfactual Thinking
The tendency to imagine alternative events/outcomes that might have occurred but did not.
-If we imagine a result that is better than the actual result, then were likely to experience dissapointment, regret, frustration
-If the imagined result is worse, then we react with emotions that range from relief to happiness.
Fundamental Attribution Error
When explaining other's behavior:
-We overestimate the role of personal factors and underestimate the impact of situations.
Ex) Road rage: someone cuts you off on the highway and immediately think that that person's an idiot or bad driver- you make a personal attribution to them- the reason they cut you off is because of their personality and non-situational factors.
FAE and the TV Quiz Show
1) Participants were randomly assigned to play the role of either the questioner or the contestant in a quiz game while spectators looked on.
2) In front of the contestant and spectators, the experimentor instructed each questioner to write down 10 challenging questions.
2a) Contestants correctly answered only 40% of questions asked.
3) When the game was over, all participants rated the questioner's and contestant's general knowledge.

-Questioners appeared more knowledgeable than the contestants (after all, they knew the answers)
-Spectators rated the questioners as above average in their knowledge and the contestants below average.
-Contestants even rated themselves as inferior to their partners.
2 Step Model of Attribution Processes
"The first step's a snap but the second one's a doozy"
-When making attributions, we:
1) Automatically make personal attributions (out of our control- when we see someone giving all the answers, we think they're smart)-- (organizing principle- implicit)
2) If we have the motivation, time, and cognitive resources, ONLY THEN we will also consider the situation. --Explicit
Why are personal attributions automatic?
1) The person is the focus of our attention.
2) The situation fades into the background
***This only happens in individualistic societies; in collectivistic societies this is switched (situation is the focus of our attention and the person fades in the background)
Culture and Attribution
-Cultures differ in their implicit theories about the causes of human behavior.
- Studies show that East Asians are more likely than Americans to consider the impact of the social and situational contexts of which they are a part.
Motivational Biases
-Our attributions for the behavior of others are often biased by our own self-esteem motives.
-Needing to believe in a just world, people often criticize victims and blame them for their fate.
*Types of Motivational Biases
1) Need for self-esteem
2) Belief in a Just World
Need for self-esteem
(Type of Motivational Bias)
-Make attributions that put us in a good light.
*Self-serving trait construals: defining traits in a way that allows us to feel good about ourselves.
Ex) What makes a good athlete?
*I'm athletic, so someone who works out once a week isn't very athletic.
Belief in a Just World
-We want to believe that the world is a fair place
*If the world is a fair place, good things will happen to good people and bad things will happen to bad people.
-If something bad happens, they must have deserved it!
Ex) Assume the poor are lazy, victims were careless, etc.
Impression Formation
Process of integrating information about a person into a whole, coherent impression.
1) Perceiver Characteristics
2) Target Characteristics
3) Priming
4) Primacy Effects
Perceiver Characteristics
(Impression Formation)
1) Individual differences in types of information we use to form impressions.
*Were going to use whatever traits that are within our self-concept and that we think are important to judge or view other people- because traits in our self-concept are easily accessible.
Ex) Intelligent people consider others' intelligence- strongly influences your view on them.
2) Current Mood
Ex) Form more positive impressions when you're happy.
Target Characteristics
(Impression Formation)
1) Trait Negativity Bias
2) Implicit Personality Theories
3) Central Traits
Trait Negativity Bias
(Target Characteristics in impression formation)
-Negative information is weighed much more heavily than positive information.
*If you do something bad, its much more influential than doing something good because we expect people to do good things.
Implicit Personality Theories
(Target Characteristics in impression formation)
-Assume different traits are linked together.
Ex) If someone is extremely intelligent, we also assume they're a hardworker and socially awkward (kind of like a stereotype)
Central Traits
(Target Characteristics in impression formation)
-Traits that exert a powerful influence on overall impressions.
Ex) Warm and Cold
Priming Effects
(Target Characteristics in Impression Formation)
-The tendency for recently used concepts to easily come to mind and automatically influence the interpretation of new information.
*If you prime a concept, it becomes much more accessible.
Impressions- "The Donald Study"
1) "Memorize" either positive or negative word list
*Positive: brave, independent, adventerous
*Negative: reckless, foolish, carelessness
2) Read about Donald's ambiguous behaviors
3) Form Impression of Donald

Result: those that read positive words formed a more positive impression of Donald
Priming- Behaviors
Ex) After seeing achievement related words, participants worked harder.
Subliminal Priming
CANNOT force you to act in ways that you normally wouldn't.
-Simply activates attitudes/behaviors that already exist.
Example: Elderly Study
*Participants were primed with the elderly concept.
*If participants liked the elderly, walked slower to the door
*If participants disliked the elderly, walked faster to the door.
Primacy Effect
-First impressions count!
-First information impacts impressions more than later information.

-Pay less attention to information after forming an impression
-Interpret later information as consistent with initial information.
Ex) Someone is initially rude to you. They are then nice to someone else and you assume they must just be sucking upt o them.

*BUT first impressions can change if sufficiently motivated.
Confirmation Biases
Our tendency to seek, interpret, and create information that verifies existing beliefs.
Two types:
1) Belief Perseverance
2) Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Belief Perseverance
(Type of Confirmation Bias)
-The tendency to maintain beliefs even after they have been discredited.
Ex) You heard your professor is really mean. Every time he's nice to you, you assume it's just a fluke.
*Reduced when:
-Consider why an alternative explanation may be true
Ex) Maybe he really is nice......
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
(Type of Confirmation Bias)
-When one's expectations about a person eventually lead that person to behave in ways that confirm expectations.
*Example: Kassin interrogation study
Kassin Interrogation Study
(Illustrating self-fulfilling prophecy)
1) Had some college students but not others commit a mock crime, stealing $100 from a laboratory.
2) All suspects were then questioned by student interrogators who were led to believe that their suspect was probably guilty or innocent.
-Interrogators who presumed the suspect was guilty asked more incriminating questions, conducted more coercive interrogations, and tried harder to get the suspect to confess= in turn this aggressive style made the suspects sound defense and led observers who later watched the tapes to judge the suspect as guilty, even though they were innocent.
Self-Fullfilling Prophecy as a Three Step Process
1) A perceiver has expectations of a target person.
2) The perceiver than behaves in a manner consistent with the expectations they have of the target person.
3) The target unwittingly adjusts his/her behavior according to the perceiver's actions.
The processes of social perception
1) Begins with the observation of persons, situations, and behavior.
2) Sometimes we make snap judgements from these cues.
3) At other times, we form impressions only after making attributions and integrating these attributions.
Accuracy- how accurate are people's impressions?
-The bad:
*Biases- FAE, need for self-esteem
*Not aware of our biases, leading us to feel overconfident in our judgements.

-The good:
*Better with more experience with the person.
*Better when we are motivated to be accurate.
*Better at predicting behavior (vs. global judgement-general information)
*Improves when taught the rules of probability and logic.