Person Perception

Person Perception
• Personal perception affects
• Perception is active process. People
perceive selectively, organize, and
interpret what they perceive.
• Perceptual filters.
1. Perceptual filters
1.1. Selective attention
• Selective attention - the ability to process
certain of stimuli available to us while filtering
out others.
• “Cocktail party phenomenon” Cherry
• A listener differs between physical
characteristics of particular voices - timbre,
pitch, gender, localization
• Experiments: It was difficult to perceive a
meaning of two information, if speakers had
Selective filter
• Broadbent (1958) - selective filter
• Attention acts as a selective filter, which
prevent our mind to information overload
1.2. Psychological filters
• The other kind of filters influencing our
perception are psychological.
• Psychological sets - our expectancies or
predispositions to respond had effect on
our perception of objects.
• Psychological set affect our perception
of other people. Expectations based of
our previous experiences.
1.3. Culture and perception
• One of the most powerful determinants
of psychological set is culture.
• Consider the two parallel straight lines
in figure. Which one is longer?
Müller-Lyer illusion
• People living in a Western culture perceive
the bottom line as being longer of the two.
• Well-known phenomenon Müller-Lyer
• Explanation: People who live in a visual
environment in which straight lines and
right angles prevail learn to make certain
visual deductions.
• They tend to interpret acute and obtuse
angles as right angles that are extended in
Müller-Lyer illusion
• People who live in a culture that has
very few structures made up of
straight lines and cornes - are not
likely to experience the Müller-Lyer
illusion because they do not tend to
make such deductions about
2. A Private Theory of
• Many people are confident of their
perceptions about others (amateur
• Each of us seems to have what has been
described as a private theory of personality.
• The terms refers to how we select and
organize information about other people on
the basis of what behaviors we think go
Experiments by S. Asch (1946)
• Suppose you are given the following list of words
describing a man you never met and are asked to
write a personality sketch of him:
• Energetic
• Assured
• Talkative
• Cold
• Ironical
• Inquisitive
• Persuasive
• Asch asked a group of students to write a
full impression of the person descibed by
these adjectives.
• All students were able to organize the poor
information they received and create a
consistent, unified impression (though there
was a great variation in their personality
Two examples:
1. He seems to be the kind person who would
make a great impression upon others at a first
meeting. However as time went by, his
acquaintances would easily come to see
through the mask.
2. Possibly he does not have any deep feeling. He
would tend to be an opportunist. Likely to
succeed in things he intends to do. He tends to
be skeptical.
Central traits
• Certartain traits are more central, more
influential than others in forming
impressions of personality.
• When one of the adjectives on the list was
replaced by its opposite, the personality
descriptions were radically different.
• The adjective „cold“ was the crucial one.
• Half of students were read the list with the trait
• In another experiment Asch substituted the pair
polite – blunt for warm-cold, but these traits
were not central – they had relatively little effect
on the way personality impressions were formed.
• To most subjects, whether a person is warm or
cold was more important than whether he is blunt
or polite.
Halo effect
• Halo effect - the tendency to extend a
favorable or unfavorable impression of one
trait to other traits.
• If you might thing of somebody as honest
and polite, just becouse you consider him
• Asch: certain traits carry weight and are
clearly more decisive to our judgment than
2.1. The First Impression
and the Primacy Effect
• The first impression - explanation and
prediction behavior on the basis of very
limited information.
• First impressions form our future
perceptions of another communication.
• Ideally, as we learn more about
someone, we continually revise or refine
our impressions in the light of new
• Luchins (in Hovland et al., 1957)
• Experiment:
• Subjects read two paragraphs describing a
young man named Jim.
• One paragraph described actions of Jim’s that
were predominantly introverted, the other
described actions that were predominantly
• All subjects read the same two paragraphs,
only their order varied.
• It was found that the first information we
receive about a person is the most decisive in
forming our impression.
• The first information we receive about a
person is the most decisive in forming our
• Thus, first meeting - especially the very first
minutes of those meetings - are important
• Rightly or wrongly, most people feel quite
confident about their judgments.
• We all know how often a first impression can be
mistaken one.
• It is also know how often decisions depend on first
• Example: We are interview for our first job. We are
very nervous, we make an obvious grammatical
mistakes in speaking. What is likely to be the
• Luchins (in Hovland et al., 1957)
• If people were warned not to make snap
judgments, the primacy effect was
reversed or eliminated completely.
2.2. Physical attractiveness
• Physically attractive people are
considered by others to be more
sociable, more popular, more sexual,
more successful, and more persuasive.
They are also thought to be happier and
to have more appealing personalities
(Berkowitz, 1974).
• “The Beautiful People” in newspapers,
• Photographs of unknown people were
shown to subjects.
• If they were physically attractive,
subjects inferred that these people were
happily married, were successful
professionally, and had engaging
personalities (Dion et al., 1972)
The attraction is linked with
perceptions of power and
• Hewitt and German (1987) - when
women ranked men in terms of four
modes of attire - military uniform, suits,
slacks/sweater, shirt/jeans - men in
uniform were judged to be most
attractive whereas men who were
dressed in jeans and a shirt were
perceived as least attractive.
Association of beauty with
• Male college students were asked to
grade essays presumably written by
females. Attached to each essay was a
photograph of the author. The same
essay received a higher grade when the
photograph showed an attractive author
than it did when the photograph was of
a homely author. (Landy and Sigall,
Communicative competence and
perception of physical
• Perception of physical attractiveness is
not entirely static and can increase with
increased communicative competence
(Duran and Kelly,1988).
Person perception in the public
• Can campaign consultants manipulate
voter preference by shaping the
appearance of political candidates they
• Studies by Rosenberg and McCafferty
(1987) conducted in 1984 during
elections in USA evaluated the impact
of different photographs of the same
candidate in an effort to answer just that
Experiment: manipulation of voter
• It was found that image manipulations was
possible: different photographs of the same
person could produce quite different images
of that person’s likeableness, integrity,
competence, and general fitness for public
• The results also indicate that different
presentations of a given candidate’s
appearance result in differences in how
many votes a candidate receives.
• Limitation of the research: artificial
Conclusion: physical
• In general, researchers tend to agree
that the influence of physical beauty is
most powerful early in a relationship.
• As we acquire more and more
information about a person, the effect
of physical appearance diminish
2.3. Personal Generalization
and Stereotypes
• Stereotype is a generalization about a class of
people, objects, or events that is widely held by a
given culture.
• We cannot say categorically that all stereotypes
are false.
• Some of them are accurate enough to provide a
very limited basis for making judgment about group
of people we hardly know. But when applied to a
specific individual, most stereotypes are
inappropriate and highly inaccurate, and many are
• Relying on stereotypes rather than on direct
2.3.1. Stereotyping by age
• In our culture there is a strong emphasis
on youth
• Many older people find that despite their
professional experience, it is difficult to
change job - age discrimination.
Stereotyping by age in the
mass media
• (Liebert and Sprafkin, 1988) Content analysis elderly people are represented in between no
more than 1.5 to 3 percent of all roles (although
about 15 percent of population of USA is now
over age 65).
• Older people are rarely represented in romantic
situations. They are often portrayed as unhappy
and inept. They are seen as having difficulty
solving their own problems.
• According to study by Bishop and Krause (1984)
on Saturday programming for children, over 90
percent of all statements made by other
2.3.2 Physical Attributes
• Longstanding American stereotype
concerning the advantages of being blonde.
• In some cultures, people are regarded as
more intelligent, reliable, and industrious
when they wear glasses.
• On the other hands, the information we have
about other people affects how we perceive
their physical attributes.
• Example: women who support the women’s
liberation movement have been judged as less
attractive physically than women who do not
support it (Goldberg et al., 1975).
Information about status differences also
affects our perception of physical
• In study by Wilson (1968) a speaker named Mr.
England was introduced to each of five college
classes by a different title - “A student from
Cambridge” all the way up to the social scale to
“Professor England from Cambridge.”. Students
were later asked to estimate Mr. England’s high.
• The higher his status, the taller students thought
he was.
• Many evidences that we tend “to judge people of
high status and people we like as taller than
people of low status and people we dislike
2.3.3 Some effects of
• A person is considered to have
attributes generally ascribed to the
groups of which he or she is a member.
• That person is not perceived as a
unique human being but as a member
of certain category of human beings Japanese, Americans, blondes,
(1) Some generalization about
categories are valuable to us in daily
(2) Generalization about human beings
- especially generalizations about how
they think and how they are likely to
behave - tend to distort our perception
and to interfere with our ability to make
accurate judgments.
3.1. Perceiver Traits that Affect
• Theorist generally agree that certain
characteristics are associated with
perceptions of others.
• (1) Intelligence is a prime factor.
• (2) Ability to draw deductions about people
from their behavior seems related to accurate
• (3) People who score low on test of
authoritarianism tend to be better judges of
– They are less rigid in their expectations, judging more
from what they know about the person
• (4) People with a high degree of objectivity
about themselves tend to have insight into the
behavior of others.
• Failures in communication frequently
occur because people have inaccurate
perceptions of each others.
• It would seem then an easy matter to
facilitate communication by simply
improving the accuracy of our
Improving perception and
• The primary element in accurate person
perception is empathy.
• Empathy involves experiencing the other’s
perception - that is, seeing and feeling
things as the other does.
• Perceiving something the way the other
person perceives it.
Improving perception and
• Another requirement of accurate person
perception is an awareness that our own
perception may be inaccurate.
• Improved perception and communication
can occur only if we are willing to
acknowledge that our perceptions are
• More accurate person perception always
makes for more effective communication.