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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 is the first step in perception, and stimuli that are intense often attract our attention.    
      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 to organize perceptions.
        3. Interaction constructs focus on social behavior.
        4. Psychological constructs refer to internal dispositions.

      3. Interpretation plays a role in virtually every interpersonal act,  once we have selected and organized our perceptions and when several factors have been taken into consideration.

        1. Relational satisfaction affects how positively one perceives their partner.
        2. Expectations shape interpretations.
        3. Assumptions about human behavior lead to interpretations.

      4. Negotiation is the process by which communicators influence each other's perceptions through communication, and 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. 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 differences in how each person receives sensory information can affect interpersonal relationships.
      2. Age allows for a greater scope and number of experiences, and developmental differences shape perceptions.
      3. Health and fatigue can have a strong impact on how one relates to others.
      4. Hunger can affect perception and communication.
      5. Biological cycles, including variations in body temperature, sexual drive, alertness, tolerance to stress, and mood, affect the way we relate to each other.
      6. Neurobehavioral challenges refer to differences in perception that are rooted in neurology, and such conditions as AD-HD and bipolar disorder influence perceptions.

    2. Psychological influences affect the way we perceive others.

      1. Our emotional state, or mood, strongly influences how we view people and events and therefore how we communicate.
      2. Our self-concept, or the way we think and feel about ourselves, strongly influences how we interpret the behavior of others.

    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 theoretically describe how a person, regardless of his or her biological sex, can act in a masculine or feminine manner or can exhibit both types of characteristics. These are referred to as psychological sex types. The androgynous type combines masculine and feminine traits, and gender is a shorthand term for psychological sex type.
      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, spouse, and friend define who we are. These roles also affect perception.

    4. Cultural influences such as cultural selection, organization, interpretation, and negotiation exert a powerful influence on the way we view communication of others.

  3. 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.
    2. We cling to first impressions, because once we form an opinion of someone we tend to hang onto it and make any conflicting information fit our image.

      1. The halo effect describes the tendency to form an overall positive impression of a person on the basis of one positive characteristic.
      2. The confirmation bias is the term to describe the process of seeking out and organizing our impressions to support our initial opinion.

    3. We judge ourselves more charitably than we do others, which is a tendency called self-serving bias.
    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.
    6. We assume others are like us; we frequently mistakenly assume that others' views are similar to our own.

  4. Mismatched perceptions can interfere with communication, tools are needed to help synchronize perceptions between ourselves and others to provide understanding.

    1. Perception checking provides a good way to check and share interpretations.
    2. Empathy is the ability to re-create another person's perspective, to experience the world from his or her point of view.

      1. Empathy is valuable because the recipient of empathy receives self-esteem, a sense of comfort, and an ability to learn to trust the empathizer.
      2. There is a link between empathy and ethical altruism.
      3. The 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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