Self and Others: Chapter 3

Looking In Looking Out – Nursing 1120
Self and Others: Chapter 3
The Perception Process:
 Perception: the process whereby we assign meaning to the world around us
Ex. Noticing something unusual about a friend that other strangers wouldn’t notice
 Failure to recognize events while recognizing others could mean ignoring important info
 Infants are unable to organize all the information given but as we grow we are able to manage
the data
Three Steps in the Perception Process:
1. Selection: first stage, some date we attend to and others we ignore
 Stimuli that are intense (loud, large, bright) stands out
o Ex. Remember tall people, louder people, brighter cities
 Repetitious stimuli, contrast or change, motives (hunger to food)
2. Organization: involves arranging data in a meaningful way
 Principle of figure-ground organization: make sense of stimuli by noticing some data
that stand out as a figure against a less striking ground
 Non-visual – Ex. Room of voices but only notice one person talking
Perceptual schemata: cognitive frameworks that allow individuals to organize perceptual data
that they have selected from the environment
Five Types of Perceptual Schemata: help classify us and others
Physical constructs: categorize people according to their appearance (male, female, fat, thin)
Role constructs: categorize people according their social positions ( student, wife, nurse)
Interaction constructs: categorize according to social behavior (sarcastic, friendly)
Psychological constructs: categorize according to their apparent personalities (insecure,
e. Membership constructs: categorize according to groups to which they belong (union rep,
 These can affect communication  allow us to form impressions and affect how we
relate to others
 Stereotyping: categorizing individuals according to characteristics assumed to belong to
members in a group
Process of organizing: Punctuation process of determining the casual order of events
3. Interpretation: final step of perception process, attaching meaning to sense data
Factors that cause us to interpret an event:
 Degree of involvement with the other person
 Past experience
 Assumption about human behavior
 Expectations
 Knowledge
 Self-concept
 Relational satisfaction
Influences on Perception
1. Physiological influences unique way of how each of us perceives the world
a. The senses – how each of us hears, sees, smells, tastes and touches stimuli can
affect interpersonal relationships
b. Age – older people view the world differently than younger people because they
have a greater scope and the number of experiences they have (Jean Piaget –
described stages children pass going to adulthood)
c. Health – impact how you relate to others (Ex. People behave differently when
they are ill)
d. Fatigue – associated with being sick, affects how you relate and interact with
e. Hunger – number of physiological changes occur when hungry (affect mood, etc)
f. Biological cycles – “morning or night person” Daily cycle where we constantly
change. Ex. Sexual drive, body temperature, tolerance to stress, hormones and
menstrual cycle (for women)
2. Cultural differences every culture has its own worldview, own way of looking at the world,
and a good way to learn about ourselves and others.
a. Miscommunication: misunderstanding someone’s culture, speech which can
cause problems
b. Nonverbal behaviors: the “OK” sign in Canada can be perceived differently in
other cultures.
c. Beliefs: value of talk differs from each culture to another (silence, constantly
communicating) Ex. Asians think that a very talkative person is considered a show
d. Geography influences: Ex. Canadians live in igloos
3. Social rolesenables a society to function smoothly and provides security that comes from
a. Gender roles: most important factor in how people perceive each other.
Determines the different roles for each sex
b. Occupational roles: the kind of work we do influences our view of the world
(varies from seeing something in the simplest view, to the most complex)
Philip Zimbardo in 1971 held a mock prison set with officers who made their own
rules and realized how tough certain people made their rules. (became very
surreal for both prisoners and officers)
4. Self-Conceptinfluences how we look at ourselves and interact with others
Ex. Someone with high self-esteem is more likely to think well of others and
someone with low self-esteem is likely to have a poor opinion of others
*Based on your own experiences!
5. Shared Narratives our interaction with other individuals and groups creates a shared
perception of the world
 Communication scholars believed that through telling narrative stories we can make
sense of the world through explaining behaviors and events.
 Analysis of some conversations helped people understand their beliefs of the world
Barriers to Accurate Perception
Attribution: the process of attaching meaning to behavior
Associated with our actions and with the actions of others
1. We often judge ourselves more charitably than we judge others: labeled as self-serving basis
(tendency to interpret and explain information in a way that casts the perceiver in the most
favorable way).
2. We tend to favor negative impressions of others over positive ones:
3. We are influenced by what is most obvious: we pay more attention to what is obvious (loud,
big, and bright) and fail to recognize the less obvious things (small, dim, etc.)
4. We cling to first impressions: labeling people by what we first see, sometimes useful when
they are correct but once we form an opinion of someone, we hang on to that and it conflicts
with the image.
5. We tend to assume others are similar to us: people don’t always think the same way as we (a
dirty joke is funny to someone but disturbing to someone else)
Perception Checking To Prevent Misunderstandings
1. Elements of Perception Checking
a. a description of the behavior you noticed
b. at least two possible interpretations of that behavior
c. a request for clarification about how to interpret the behavior
 Perception checking is a tool for helping you understand others accurately instead of
assuming that your first interpretation is correct
2. Perception-Checking Considerations
a. Completeness - sometimes perception check won’t need all the parts. Simple is
sometimes better
b. Non-verbal congruency – non-verbal has to reflect the open-mindedness of your words
c. Cultural rules – being respectful for each individuals culture
Empathy and Communication
1. Empathy Defined
 Empathy: the ability to project oneself into another person’s point of view, so as to
experience the other’s thoughts and experiences
 Three levels of empathy: Perspective taking (taking another person’s viewpoint),
emotional dimension (helps get closer to the experience), concern (for the welfare of the
other person)
 Empathy and sympathy are very different. Sympathy is when we accept someone else’s
pain upon ourselves, but empathy is helping that person cope
2. The Pillow Method: a tool for building empathy
 Developed for an easy, quick tool to clarify positional misunderstandings
 Developed by a group of Japanese schoolchildren
 A way of understanding an issue from several perspectives, rather than with an
a. Position 1: I’m Right, You’re Wrong : usually take when viewing the issue
b. Position 2: You’re Right, I’m Wrong: switching perspectives
c. Position 3: Both Right, both wrong: acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of each
person’s argument
d. Position 4: The issue isn’t as important as it seems: helps you realize that the
controversy isn’t as critical as you thought
e. Conclusion: There is truth in all four perspectives : recognizing that each of them has
some merit
Perception in the Workplace
Helps shape reality
Positive correlation between job satisfaction and quality of communication and social support
1. Perception Checking: to avoid misunderstandings and conflict
2. First Impressions: in the workplace it’s very hard to ignore the first impressions because they
are mostly done during the interview and sometimes this leads to inaccuracy in knowing the
3. Empathy: trying not to treat your job like a routine, seeing the world from the client’s
perspective builds better communication