What kinds of information do you use to form first impressions of other people? You no doubt use many different kinds of information available to you including how they look, how they behave, and how similar or dissimilar they are to people you already know. Then, you probably process that information in a way that allows you to make sense of their behavior. You likely see if you can fit that person into some group with which you are familiar and then try to make sense of the person’s behavior in light of others in that group. For example, if you meet a mother with four young children, you probably have some preconceived ideas of what she is like and how she will behave. This expected behavior will be very different from a distinguished looking elderly man in a suit and bowtie. In addition, you probably have your own goals for relating to the person, which also influence your impression. If your goal is to form a long-term relationship with the person, you will process the information differently than you would the information from a store clerk with whom you don’t plan to have any kind of relationship.
The information you focus on, the strategies you use in processing the information, and the resulting impressions and preconceived ideas you form about a person make up what is called person perception. Since social psychology is all about relating to others, be it an individual or a group of people, person perception is an important topic.
In addition to understanding how people form impressions of others, it is helpful to dig deeper into why people might behave as they do. In doing so, you can more easily predict how people will behave and then control the environment accordingly. By having a better understanding of why people behave as they do, you also can understand your own emotions and feelings toward the situation, which impact your own future behavior. The simple question of “What causes what?” is essential in understanding those around you and your social environment. And, since it would be cumbersome to constantly ask the question “What causes what?,” people tend to ask and answer it automatically. The social psychology term for this concept is causal attribution. There are many related theories that you can use to understand why people behave as they do. This understanding in turn helps you to better understand how people relate to one another and to the environment, predict behavior, and partly control social situations, all major goals of social psychology.
To prepare for this assignment: Review Chapter 2 of the course text, Social Psychology, focusing on the principles of how people form impressions of others, including the attribution theory.
• Watch the “Social Perception” video from the Contemporary Videos in Social Psychology DVD. Focus on the internal and external attributions in the argument.
• Review the article, “Implicit Theories and Self-Perceptions of Traitedness Across Cultures: Toward Integration of Cultural and Trait Psychology Perspectives,” focusing on the differences between individualist and collectivist cultures and applying these differences to how individuals from different cultures might form different first impressions of others.
• Watch for an occasion when you come in contact with someone you don’t know. Using this person/occasion as an example, reflect on the following questions and actions. (You may wish to review these questions in advance of such an occasion.)
o When you see a person for the first time and are forming an initial impression, what information do you use?
o Into what groups do you place people you meet? What attributes do you apply to these groups? What does the environmental context have to do with your initial impression?
o In what ways do you integrate the information you use to form your first impression: the group identification and that group’s attributes, the environmental context and what you already know, your emotions, your biases, consistencies or inconsistencies, and the schemas you developed from past experiences?
o What are the goals you have for meeting this person?
o Apply elements of any of the causal attribution theories to this person/occasion.
o How accurate do you think this first impression is?
The assignment: 1pages, APA style format, No Plagiarism and must be cited with the references provided. Thank you.
Select one person in each of the following two categories:
**A person you do not know and who you probably will not see again (clerk at the grocery story, etc.)
**A person you have known for some time, and for whom you can remember your first impressions (acquaintance, friend, spouse, etc.)
(1).Briefly describe each person, your goal for meeting each when you did, and your impression of each, including a description of how each behaved.
(2).Based on the Learning Resources, analyze the kinds of information and the processes that were important in forming your impression of each person.
(3).Describe the schema, prototype, and exemplars that contributed to the forming of your impression in each case.
(4).Apply elements of causal attribution theories and concepts to explain each person’s behavior.
Assignment Course Rubrics
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• Course Text: Social Psychology
Chapter 2, “Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Others” (pp. 32–63)
Chapter 3, “Social Cognition: Understanding the Social World” (pp. 64–9 4)
Article: Church, A., Katigbak, M., Del Prado, A., Ortiz, F., Mastor, K., Harumi, Y., et al. (2006). Implicit theories and self-perceptions of traitedness across cultures: Toward integration of cultural and trait psychology perspectives. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 37(6), 694 – 716. Retrieved from http://auth.waldenulibrary.org/ezpws.exe?url=http://jcc.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/37/6/694 Article: Boeree, C. G. (1999). Person perception. In Social psychology basics. Retrieved July 18, 2008, from http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/socpsy.html
Contemporary Videos in Social Psychology DVD
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