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Chapter Outline

  1. The perception process refers to how our perceptions affect our communication with others.
    1. Reality is constructed, as we create our reality with others through communication.

      1. First-order realities are physically observable qualities of a thing or situation.
      2. Second-order realities involve attaching meaning to first-order things or situations.
    2. There are four steps in the perception process whereby we attach meanings to our experiences.

      1. Selection – We select which data we’ll attend to. Attention is related to stimuli that are intense, repeated, or change.
      2. Organization is the stage where selected information must be arranged in some meaningful way to make sense of the world through four types of schema to classify information and punctuation, which is the determination of causes and effects in a series of interactions.
        1. Physical constructs classify people according to their appearance.
        2. Role constructs use social positions.
        3. Interaction constructs focus on social behavior.
        4. Psychological constructs refer to internal states of mind and dispositions.
      3. Interpretation – attaching meaning to the data we have perceived. Factors that affect interpretation:
        1. Relational satisfaction
        2. Expectations
        3. Personal experience
        4. Personality
        5. Assumptions about human behavior
      4. Negotiation is the process by which communicators influence each other's perceptions through communication. One way to explain negotiation is to view interpersonal communication as the exchange of stories or narratives that we tell to describe our world.

  2. Influences on perception - How we select, organize, interpret, and negotiate information about others is influenced by a variety of factors.
    1. Physiological influences come from the physical environment and the ways that our bodies differ from others.

      1. The senses
      2. Age
      3. Health and fatigue
      4. Biological cycles
      5. Hunger
      6. Neurobehavioral challenges
    2. Psychological influences affect the way we perceive others.

      1. Mood - our emotional state
      2. Self-concept
    3. Social influences are described in the standpoint theory, which states that a person's position in a society shapes her or his view of society in general and of specific individuals.

      1. Sex and gender roles – sex refers to biological characteristics of a male or female. Gender refers to the social and psychological dimensions of masculine and feminine behavior. Androgynous – equal masculine and feminine characteristics.
      2. Our occupational role, or the kind of we work we do, also governs our view of the world.
      3. Relational roles such as daughter, roommate, spouse, and friend define who we are and affect perception.
    4. Cultural influences selection, organization, interpretation, and negotiation and exerts a powerful influence on the way we view others’ communication.

  3. Common tendencies in perception. Attribution describes the process of attaching meaning to behavior. Several perceptual tendencies may lead to inaccurate attributions.
    1. We make snap judgments, which can become problematic when they are based on stereotyping or exaggerated beliefs associated with a categorizing system. Characteristics of stereotypes:

      1. Categorizing others on the basis of easily recognizable but not necessarily significant characteristics
      2. Ascribing a set of characteristics to most or all members of a group
      3. Applying the generalization to a particular person
    2. We cling to first impressions – our initial impressions often carry more weight than the ones to follow.

      1. Primacy effect – tendency to pay more attention to, and to better recall, things that happen first in a sequence
      2. Halo effect - tendency to form an overall positive impression of a person on the basis of one positive characteristic.
      3. Confirmation bias - process of seeking out and organizing our impressions to support our initial opinion.
    3. We judge ourselves more charitably than we do others

      1. Fundamental attribution error - tendency to give more weight to personal qualities than to the situation when making attributions about others’ behaviors.
      2. Self-serving bias – when we perform poorly, we usually blame external forces – and we credit ourselves rather than the situation when we behave well.

    4. We are influenced by our expectations, and this information is important when making decisions about others.
    5. We are influenced by the obvious, which can be problematic when the most obvious factor is not necessarily the only cause - or most significant one - of an event.
    6. We assume others are like us - we mistakenly assume that others' views are similar to our own.

  4. Synchronizing our perceptions - Mismatched perceptions can interfere with communication. Tools are needed to help others understand our perceptions and for us to understand theirs.
    1. Perception checking provides a good way to review assumptions and share interpretations. Three parts:

      1. Describe the behavior you noticed
      2. Consider at least two possible interpretations of the behavior
      3. Request clarification about how to interpret the behavior
    2. Building empathy

      1. Empathy is the ability to re-create another person's perspective, to experience the world from his or her point of view. Involves: perspective taking, emotional contagion and concern. Empathy is different from sympathy.
      2. Empathy and ethics – There’s a link between empathy and ethical altruism. Bystanders who feel empathy more likely to intervene. Treatment for offenders involves instilling empathy.
      3. Requirements for empathy - most important requirement for empathy is to be open-minded to understand another's position, but imagination and commitment are also needed.


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