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Tom Farsides: 08/10/03 Perceiving Persons.

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1 Tom Farsides: 08/10/03 Perceiving Persons

2 Lecture Overview Attribution theories
Cognitive heuristics, errors, and biases Priming effects Implicit personality theories Primacy effects Confirmation biases

3 Social perception “This subject concerns the qualities that people perceive in others and the factors...that contribute to these perceptions” Zebrowitz (1995, p. 583)

4 Nonverbal behavior The six innate and universal basic emotions (SHAFDS)

5 Attribution theories Attribution theories describe how people attempt to explain the causes of behaviour. Heider (1958) differentiated between ‘personal’ and ‘situational’ attributions. Another common distinction is between stable and unstable causes of behaviour. Another is made in terms of controllability.

6 Correspondent inference theory (Jones & Davis, 1965)
What is a correspondent inference? Influenced by Perceived choice (CI if high) Intended effects (CI if few benefits to actor) Expectedness (CI if unexpected)

7 Kelley’s (1967) covariation theory
We attribute causality to factors that co-vary with behaviours. Behaviour can be attributed to the actor, a stimulus they are reacting to, or the situation they are acting in. Three types of covariation information may be used. Consensus Same stimulus: Different people. Distinctiveness Same person: Different stimuli. Consistency Same person: Same stimulus.

8 Kelley’s (1967) covariation theory
LOW Other people do not stroke Defor. LOW You tend to stroke any dog you see. HIGH You stroke Defor every time you meet. PERSONAL ATTRIBUTION You like dogs. You stroke Defor (a dog). HIGH Other people tend to stroke Defor. HIGH You tend not to stroke dogs. HIGH You stroke Defor every time you meet. STIMULUS ATTRIBUTION Defor is cute. LOW Other people do not stroke Defor. HIGH You tend not to stroke dogs. LOW You have never stroked Defor before or since. SITUATION ATTRIBUTION You were locked in a room with Defor. CONSENSUS DISTINCTIVENESS CONSISTENCY x-persons x-stimuli x-situations

9 Cognitive heuristics Cognitive heuristics (“rules of thumb”) effective
often adequate a greater chance of being wrong E.g., The availability heuristic

10 The fundamental attribution error (Ross, 1977)
In explaining another’s behavior, we over-emphasise personal factors and downplay situational factors. Jones & Harris (1967)

11 Individualism and the correspondence bias
Miller (1984) Individualism and the correspondence bias

12 A two-step model of the attribution process
Gilbert & Malone (1995) A two-step model of the attribution process

13 The actor-observer effect (Jones & Nisbett, 1972)
Actors tend to attribute their behaviour to situational factors while observers tend to attribute the same behaviours to dispositional factors. Differential information explanation. Differential focus explanation.

14 Primacy effect The tendency for information presented early in a sequence to have more impact on impressions than information presented later. Asch (1946) “Intelligent, industrious, impulsive, critical, stubborn, and envious” leads to more positive impressions than the other way around. ‘Lazy’ and ‘stubborn’ explanations. ‘Lazy’ explanation Once an impression is confidently formed, perceivers pay less attention to subsequent information, especially when motivation or resources to enable further ‘investigation’ are low (e.g., high need for closure). Primacy effects may be diminished by motivated perceivers with adequate cognitive resources. ‘Stubborn’ explanation The ‘change of meaning hypothesis’. Once an impression is confidently formed, perceivers actively interpret subsequent information to make it as consistent as possible with the impression formed. E.g. “calm” is taken to mean “serene” when describing a nice person but “calculating” when describing someone cruel (Cf. Asch’s Implicit Personality Theory, later in this lecture or maybe in the next one). Note both explanations lead us into the area of stereotype endurance and resistance to (empirically provoked) change. Once it is decided that this person is “intelligent” (or whatever), evidence potentially conflicting with this stereotype is ignored or reinterpreted as stereotype-consistent. Later, in ‘Attitudes’, we will learn about a recency effect and its relationship to the primacy effect. For me only: Question: Might perceivers assume that the list order itself is important, as people usually start descriptions with the most important first, followed by minor characteristics and qualifications? Note that the pictures on the previous slide occupied the ‘prime’ spots.

15 Implicit personality theories
The network of assumptions commonly made about relationships among types of people, traits and behaviours. Knowing one trait a person has leads us to assume or infer the person has other traits and behaviors. e.g., blondes... Asch (1946) “Intelligent, skillful, industrious, _____, determined, practical and cautious.”

16 Priming The tendency for frequent or recent concepts to easily come to mind and influence the way we interpret new information. Higgins et al. (1977) Impressions of same adventurer affected by positive or negative primes. Bargh & Pietromonaco (1982) Subliminally presented primes have most influence on subsequent impression formation. Bargh & Chartrand (1999) Primes affect subsequent behaviour. Bargh et al. (1996) Primes influence subsequent social behaviour too.

17 Priming of social behavior
Bargh et al. (1996) Priming of social behavior

18 Biases confirming expectancies from stereotypes
Darley & Gross (1983) Viewing Hannah’s mixed performance led to perceived verification of both low and high expectations, with evidence of the opposite ignored or rationalised

19 Confirmatory hypothesis testing
Darley & Gross (1983) demonstrate that people will interpret ambiguous or mixed information in ways to confirm existing theories. Snyder & Swann (1978) demonstrate that people with existing theories will bias the information they collect when evaluating those theories. The evidence collected is biased enough to cause others shown it to ‘confirm’ the original person’s existing theory. Cf. Adorno et al.’s (1950) validation of the authoritarian personality.

20 Resisting confirmation biases
Elaborate alternative theories, reasons they might be true, and potential evidence for them. Be sceptical about the truth of existing beliefs and seek accuracy instead of confirmation. Be wary of information and information-seeking tools provided by others. Bias information-seeking in favour of trying to disconfirm your expectations.

21 The self-fulfilling prophecy
Perceiver’s expectations can lead to their own fulfilment (Merton, 1948). Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) Pygmalion in the Classroom Teachers told ‘late bloomers’ had IQ scores indicating an imminent growth spurt. Eight months later, these randomly selected children had higher IQ increases and received better teacher evaluations than control children. Remember Darley & Gross (1983) and Snyder & Swann (1978).

22 Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) Average gain in IQ

23 Challenging the self-fulfilling prophecy
Rosenthal (1985) Teacher expectation successfully predicts student performance 36 percent of the time. Brehm et al. (2002) report this as confirmation of the self-fulfilling prophesy. Jussim et al. (1996) Point out that - unlike in Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) - teachers often have good reasons for their expectations. Students perform in accordance with these expectations because both the performance and the expectations are caused by some third factor, e.g. talent and application. Is Rosenthal (1985) evidence against the self-fulfilling prophesy, i.e., only 36% (with 64% of expectations not being fulfilled)?

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