The main of this essay is to examine how perceptual process effects the way in which judgements of others is made. To do this it will be necessary to first explain what perception is and how perception of others is made through the perceptual set. How things like impression formation and the primary and recency effect and stereotyping and over generalisation are used order to draw a perception. Also highlighted will be how theses can be distorted through personal experiences and contributing factors such as the halo effect and the rusty halo effect.
Perception is basically how an individual understands any given situation within their environment. Human beings have five external senses, which aid in the perception process these, are sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. However there are different types of perception. There are the perception of objects known as general perception this differs from social perception the perception of people in that objects do not behave therefore it is not possible to make a perception through the behaviour of a object. In the perception of others the perceptual set comes into play. This is where the perceiver takes in certain stimulus from the environment known as selection where by the individual focuses on one characteristic like physical appearance. Then the individual organises this information in order to make sense of the incoming stimulus. Then finally the individual draws a conclusion of someone due to these first two processes this is known as inference.
Many factors influence the perceptual set. One of which is motivation. Studies by Gilchrist and Nesberg (1952) found that hungry people perceive pictures of food being brighter than pictures of other objects. This simple shows that the motivation of the people in the study was for food thus given strength to motivation effecting the perceptual set.
Impression formation is the process in which a certain feature of a person’s behaviour is drawn upon in order to gain an insight of this person. Things like sex, weight, voice tone would all be factors in the formation of an impression also past knowledge or prejudices of that type of person would be a factor on the perception of that individual. Even thought this is only a small area or areas to focus on the rest of the information would merely be filled in at this time, in order to organise the individual.
The primacy effect means the way in which perception is made on the basis of first impressions. The receny effect is how the primacy is then built upon in order to gain perhaps a truer perception of an individual. Once a the primacy effect has taken place it is much harder to change the perception in the future even after the receny has taken over if the primacy was negative rather than positive.
Stereotypes and stereotyping are all part of human nature. This is ere one factor can cause stereotyping and over generalisation of an individual or group of people. One such example could be the fact that most people in the west of Scotland over generalisation and stereotypes of German people that the are arrogant and steal all the sun bed while on holiday. This however may not be the case it is a stereotype or an over generalisation perhaps because of past experience one of German person. Stereotypes can be past down from generation to generation like all black people are lazy or all white people are stupid these also could effect how the individual perceives a person or a group. According to Brisling (1993) “Stereotypes should not be viewed as a sign of abnormality. Rather, they effect people’s need to organise, remember, and retrieve information that might be useful to them as they attempt to achieve their goals and to meet life’s demands”(Gross p 334). Once these stereotypes have been created it made hard to change or challenge and this could lead to prejudice which is a totally negative response to an other person or person’s.
Perception can be distorted in many ways things like what is going on in the perceives own life can play a big part in perception like if pregnant it is more likely that pregnant people will stand out from other people as this has an interest to the individual. Also certain words can play a part in how perception would work there are warm words such as happy, loving and kind and cold words such as sad, miserable, overbearing.
Asch (1946) conducted a study with two groups of people in order to give this theory some credit with one group he describe a ” fictitious person with adjectives like intelligent, skilful, industrious, warm, determined, practical and cautious. And a second group had the same list, except that the word cold replaced the word warm.”(Gross p330). Asch found the group that had the warm word in there list perceived the fictitious person to be generous and popular and sociable while the group that had the word cold perceived the person to be the opposite. There are many words that have this effect such like polite or blunt, kind or cruel that can have a negative of positive effect on how perception of a person that is not known to us can have.
The halo effect also comes into play when an individual perceives someone. This is where the perceiver would previously have some good knowledge of this person. Or the fact that the perceiver would like to, so when the person does something wrong or hurtful to the perceiver they would simply put it down to the fact that the person is having a bad day or such like. The opposite side of that is the rusty halo effect. Where by the perceiver may not like an individual or even know them and that person does something good or nice because the perceiver does not like them or even no them they would perceive the negatively.
As shown perception is very individual and that fact that there are so many different factors at play it is not always easy to draw an unbiased opinion of someone. However the fact that there are errors within our own perception processes through things like past experiences and the halo effect. We must try to keep an open mind and not to make snap judgements as this can have a last effect not only on our own self through impression management but passed on to our children via over generalisation of a certain race or sex. And once these perception are founded it can be hard to remove them.
Psychology and psychologist have helped our understand of perception and the perceptually process. Through many studies and evidence to back up their theories. However because perception is an 8individual part of human nature it will always be subjective and may not hold scientific weight, as it is so personal to each individual.