Social Psychology (PSY403)
Introducing to students that how people perceive others.
Understanding what is person perception and impression formation.
Discussing how our impressions of others are formed by nonverbal cues.
Practical implications of previous four lectures: The Self
The following practical implications were discussed pertaining to one's knowledge and understanding of
Negatives of self consciousness as a trait: self destructive activities
Implementation of self regulation: cues, depletion of energy, affirmations
High esteem as a positive trait, but be aware of dark side
Importance of downward and upward comparisons
Reduce discrepancies between actual and ideal and ought selves
Applied Social Psychology Lab: A case Example
This lecture was started with a case example of a USA Reporter Stephen Glass, who was an ambitious
young man. He was known for integrity, intelligence, and supreme confidence. In the mid-1990s, while
serving as executive editor for the University of Pennsylvania's student-run newspaper, Glass wrote, "The
role of The Daily Pennsylvanian is not to make allies and not to make enemies--it is to report the truth." As
leader of the school's paper, Stephen was both charming and demanding. He wrote vivid stories of his journalis-
tic adventures, while simultaneously admonishing these budding journalists to check their facts before filing a
story. One of those reporters recalled, "While fact-checking my writing, he once admonished me for inverting a
quotation I had taken from a politician's speech. I had not changed the meaning of the speaker's words, but Steve
insisted I quote the words in the order in which the speaker actually spoke them. At the time, I was impressed
that Steve could be creative and also hold himself to such strict ethical standards" (Brus, 1998).
Following graduation, this likable, talented, and high-minded reporter soon became associate editor of The
New Republic, and, at the age of 25, was a rising star in the world of journalism with his freelance reporting for such
high-profile magazines as George, Rolling Stone, and Harper's Magazine.
Then something happened. In May 1998, Glass wrote a story for The New Republic about a 15-year-old computer
hacker who broke into the database of a software company and posted the salaries of its executives on its web site.
Instead of prosecuting this wayward computer whiz, the executives wanted to hire him. This story was different
from Stephen's previous stories as this time he also published Website of Software Company and the name of
hacker. However, when another journalist tried to locate that hacker, he did not find any trace of him. Further
investigation showed his news stories were all fabrications, and his particular performance as a principled
reporter abruptly ended. However, this case is an example how as self-presenters, we often consistently
try to shape others' impressions. Another thing which this case example shows that how peoples'
impressions of other person's are formed.
What is person perception?
The process by which we come to know about others' temporary states--such as their emotions, intentions, and
desires--and enduring dispositions--such as their beliefs, traits, and abilities--is known as person perception This
type of perception is often not a single, instantaneous event, but rather comprises a number of ongoing processes,
which can be roughly classified into two general areas: impression formation and attribution.
Impression formation is often based on rapid assessments of salient and observable qualities and behaviors in others.
These judgments are obtained by attending to nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body posture, as well as
incorporating more detailed and descriptive characteristics, such as traits, into an overall impression. If you talk to
anyone who was there at the same time as him, I don't think you'll find anyone at the paper who questioned his ethics
at all. Iimpression formation is usually just the first step of person perception. Often, we also want to understand
Social Psychology (PSY403)
what causes people to act in a particular manner. This attribution process goes beyond discerning people's current
moods and feelings and attempts instead to use their past actions to predict future behavior
Impression formation is the process by which observers integrate various sources of information about others' self-
presentations into a unified and consistent judgment (Hamilton & Sherman, 1996; Ickes, 2003). The process of
forming impressions is viewed by social psychologists as a dynamic one, with judgments being continually updated
in response to new information. It is analogous to building a "working model" of a person and then using this as a
guideline in our actions toward him or her
Our Impressions of Others Are Shaped by Their Nonverbal Behavior
First impressions are often based on nonverbal communication, which is the sending and
Receiving of information using gestures, expressions, vocal cues, and body movements rather than words. Two of
the more important nonverbal channels of communication are facial expressions AND body movements. However, all
nonverbal cues including paralinguistic's and unconscious mimicry are vas under:
1. Facial Expressions
More than two thousand years ago, the Roman orator Marcus Cicero wrote that the "face is the image of the soul."
Centuries later, Charles Darwin (1872) proposed that facial expressions not only play an important role in
communication, but that certain emotional expressions are inborn and thus are understood throughout the world.
Studies conducted during the past thirty years provide support for Darwin's assertions: there is substantial cross-
cultural agreement in both the experience and expression of emotions; although certain emotions are easier to
distinguish than others most researchers have concluded that certain emotions are more basic, or primary, than others.
Most classification lists include the following seven primary emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, surprise,
contempt, and sadness other emotions that are considered basic by some theorists are shame and guilt. He believed that
this ability to recognize emotion from the observation of facial expressions was genetically programmed into our
species and had survival value for us.
Research supports the survival value hypothesis. For instance, a number of studies have shown people
pictures of crowds of faces to determine what facial expressions were most recognizable in such a clustered
setting. As Darwin would have predicted, people spotted threatening faces (anger first, fear second) faster and
more accurately than nonthreat-ening faces, even when the nonthreatening faces depicted negative
emotions such as sadness (Hanscn & Hansen, 1988; Lanzetta & Orr, 1986; Ohman et al., 2001).
2. Body Movements
Besides facial cues, the body as a whole can convey a wealth of information. William Chaplin and his
coworkers (2000) have found evidence that in North American culture people with firm handshakes tend to be
more extraverted, adventurous, and less neurotic and shy than those with weak handshakes. Recognizing the
importance of this nonverbal behavior in forming favorable first impressions, many professional training
seminars now teach attendees how to properly shake hands.
There are different forms of physical touches, like mother's touch to a child is very comforting (Maurer &
Maurer, 1988). Similarly several forms of therapies, physical as well as psychological, use physician's touch in
the process of healing (Borelli & Heidt, 1988. Studies have also reported comparatively less tension in those who
touch and get touched (Anderson et al., 1987), which shows the power and importance of touch.
A series of studies by Joel Aronoff and his colleagues (1992) also suggest that people often infer underlying
emotional states by reading the geometric patterns of bodies during social interaction; For example, in a creative
analysis of dance characters in classical ballet, the researchers' found that the body and arm displays of the
threatening characters were more diagonal or angular, while those of the warm characters were more rounded.
These findings suggest that people analyze the shape of large-scale body movements to better determine
another person's behavioral intentions. Yet although there are commonly shared meanings of many physical
gestures, it is also true that people from different cultures often assign different meanings to the same physical
Social Psychology (PSY403)
3. Nonconscious Mimicry
Beyond interpreting the meaning of specific nonverbal gestures, our impressions of others are also shaped by
nonconscious mimicry, which is the tendency to adopt the behaviors, postures, or mannerisms of interaction
partners without conscious awareness or intention. Mimicking others' facial expressions appears to be so inborn
that 1 -month-old infants have been shown to smile, stick out their tongues, and open their mouths when they see
someone else doing the same (Metzlaff & Moore, 1989). Evidence that mimicry is often nonconscious and
unintentional comes from number of studies.
Insight into the biological basis for nonconscious mimicry comes from PET scans and EEG recordings of
people's brains while they observe another person performing an action. These studies found that similar neural
circuits are firing in the observers' brains as are firing in the brains of those who are carrying out the action.
These specialized neural circuits located in the premotor cortex are called mirror neurons
How does mimicking affect impression formation? In a follow-up experiment to their face-rubbing/foot-shaking
study, Chartrand and Bargh (1999) found evidence that mimicry increases liking for the imitator. The
researchers instructed confederates to subtly imitate the mannerisms of people they were interacting with in a
"get acquainted" session (for example, rubbing their face or tapping their foot when their partner did so). Their
findings indicated that people whose gestures had been mimicked liked the confederates more than those who
had not been mimicked. Prosocial behavior these studies suggest that mimicry triggers _ positive reactions in
people that lead to benefits to those who are present.
All nonverbal cues can be divided into visible and invisible channels. The examples are given below:
Visible and No visible channels
Facial expressions, gestures, posture, appearance, Eye Contact [not made in some cultures] Indicates
interest (friendship or threat)
These are not related with variation in the content of speech but in the variation of tone
and quality of speech. For example, Pitch, amplitude, rate, voice quality of speech
Studies have indicated that:
An attractive voice is resonant, articulate, and has a range; not shrill, high-pitched or monotonous
(Zuckerman & Miyake, 1993)
Attractive voiced are perceived as more strong and interpersonally warm (Berry, 1992)
Franzoi, S.L. (2006). Social Psychology. New York: McGraw Hill. Chapter 4.
Lord, C.G. (1997). Social Psychology. Orlando: Harcourt Brace and Company. Chapter 3.
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