Person Perception Essay, Research Paper
The mental processes we use to form judgements and draw conclusions about the characteristics and motives of other people are called person perception. If you break it down a person is a human and perception is the process of integrating or organizing and interpreting sensations. This, in short, means that person perception is the clues we draw to judge another person. It is forming impressions on someone without getting to know them first. Person perception is an active and subjective process that always occurs in some interpersonal context. Every interpersonal context has three key components; they are as follows:
1. The characteristics of the individuals you are attempting to “size up”.
2. Your own characteristics as the perceiver.
3. The specific situation in which the process occurs.
Each component influences the conclusions you reach about other people. As a psychological process, person perception follows some basic principals. All the principals will be illustrated with a classroom scenario.
1. Your reactions to others are determined by your perception of them, not by who they really are. You treat others according to how you perceive them to be. For example, when you walk into the classroom on the first day of school, you almost instantly start to form a judgment about everyone. There are three seats left you quickly decide not to sit next to the big, burly man with a scowl on his face, and the ugly little man who is talking to himself. Why, because you perceived them to be potentially threatening, but the truth maybe that the man with the scowl on his face is a florist that is very tired and is getting home too late. As for the other guy, he could be talking in to a recorder so that he won’t forget something he has to pick up for his wife.
2. Your goals in a particular situation determine the amount and kind of information you collect about others. Your goal in this situation is to simply find someone that will leave you alone so that you may learn. You only look at the aspects that seem relevant to you to accomplish this goal.
3. In every situation, you evaluate people partly in terms of how you expect them to act in a situation. Whenever you are in a classroom, restroom, or restaurant you act in a certain way. Your behavior is governed by social norms. Social norms are the “rules” or expectations for appropriate behavior in a particular social situation. For example, you don’t sit next to someone on a bus if there are empty seats, and you don’t start up conversation in public restrooms with strangers. These rules aren’t in a book somewhere but if you don’t follow these social norms, it may cause the attention to be shifted and it may make someone feel uneasy. So when you are finding someone to set by in a classroom, you base your decision on what “people setting in a classroom waiting for the first day to start” should look like.
4. Your self-perception also influences how you perceive others and how you act on your perceptions. Where you decide to sit is also influenced by the way you perceive yourself. If you think of yourself as an organized person with great study skills, you are most likely going to sit next to the girl that has everything in nice little folders and is typing something into her pocket calendar, rather than sitting next to the guy who has papers flying out of all ends of his notebook. He seems to be looking for something and is getting very angry that he can’t find it.
In combination, these four basic principals basically mean that person perception is not a one-way process in which we objectively survey other people and then logically evaluate their characteristics. Instead, the context of self-perception and the perceptions we have of others all interact. Each component plays an important role in the judgements we form of others.
In the research that I read, I found out that women have faster person perception skills than men do. The first article examined the accuracy and the power of sex, social class, and ethnic stereotypes in person perception. Virtually all research studies examining stereotypes in person perception have been experimental lab studies. Experiments are highly valuable because they identify the process relating stereotypes to person perception. The participants in this study included students and teachers in seventh grade public school math classes. The article touched on the point that stereotypes are inaccurate. It concluded that because there is no clear evidence that stereotypes are accurate. Nearly all broad reviews in the last thirty years have left inaccuracy out of the definition of stereotypes, it also concluded that stereotypes do have a big effect on person perception. The resource claims that people rely on stereotypes when judging one another a lot less now then thirty years ago. Overall, the article states that modern research shows that stereotypes are not always inaccurate and that their effects on person perception are often weak, but especially when compared to the effects of personal characteristics. There may be social situations characterized by situational and motivational conditions that promote greater bias. I think that this article leaves a lot to be answered, and there is a lot more research to be done. The research was only done on seventh grade students and their teachers so this information may not hold true for the rest of the society.
The second article that I read was written about the effects of cognitive demand and judgment strategy in performance on the Interpersonal Perception Task. The Interpersonal Task contained thirty real life scenes on videotape for which there are objectively correct answers to questions about status, intimacy, kinship, competition and deception. For example, they were shown a confrontation between two people and then were asked, “Who was the boss in that scene?” The people were asked to pair up in to twos and then were divided into two. Half of these people had to watch the videos with the sound turned off. These people had to pick up on body language. The other half of the participants were aloud to hear the videos, but they were also given an extra assignment. They were told to remember a shopping list. This list had items like three orange, or a half loaf of rye bread. The participants were not aloud to write the list down but they had to remember it throughout watching the video. After the video, they had to answer a questionnaire asked by their partners. By adding this extra objective the researchers were using memory task manipulation. This provided another analog to the cognitive demand on perceivers’ judgments in interaction. This proved to hinder their experiment because the conclusion of this experiment was that more is not always better when it comes to applying cognitive resources to social judgment. The resource also showed that women scored much higher then men, but it also showed that the groups that had partners that liked each other scored higher than the groups where the partners didn’t get along. I think that this research is just learn about how people use people perception to process verbal and nonverbal clues in every day society.
The third article was about the fact that we don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are. It stated that past research demonstrated that the psychological state of observers’ influences how they view others. This influence was called “projection.” The current study explored projection in close relationships of cohabiting partners. In one study, structural equation modeling revealed significant components of projection when spouses reported the depressive symptoms of their partners. In another study the same analysis was expanded to include spouses’ reports on a variety of effective states, attitudes and the behavior of their partners. It was demonstrated that the degree of projection increased with the increase of magnitude of the correlation between the self-views of the spouses. A cognitive process that accounts for this finding is proposed, along with a view of projection as a heuristic device rather that a bias. I believe this to be true and I think that we should continue to study person perception. It is very interesting to me to read about how and why we choose to be friends with different people.