What Is Person Perception?

What Is Person Perception?

A widespread tendency to generate impressions of other persons is referred to as person perception. Some types of human perception are indirect, requiring inferences about a person based on observations of behaviors or second-hand knowledge. Other types of human perception are more direct and only require the observation of another person. Both of these categories of human perception serve as a foundation for making future judgments and shaping subsequent encounters.

History and Background of a Person’s Perception
Individual Perception
The term “person perception” has traditionally been used in social psychology to refer to one’s perception of others, which leads to evaluations of qualities and dispositions. What kind of impression is Bill likely to leave on an observer if he kicks a dog? Many of the early studies into such sensations were based on attribution theory. People can attribute other people’s behaviour to internal (personality, inclinations, etc.) or external (situational restrictions) elements, according to Fritz Heider, but people are more likely to make internal attributions. These fundamental insights influenced decades of research and laid the groundwork for two related ideas in particular. For example, Harold Kelley’s covariation model outlined how people infer other people’s sentiments based on simple characteristics surrounding observed behaviour. Similarly, the idea of corresponding inferences by Edward E. Jones and Keith Davis explained why individuals infer that activities convey personality. As a result, early study in this field looked into when and how people infer qualities from their actions.

Perception of an Indirect Person
Many of the personal characteristics that observers may desire to know about another person (for example, whether the individual is loyal, honest, or despised) are not directly observable. Instead, these characteristics or behaviors must be deduced—either by witnessing the person’s activities (watching them act loyal or honest) or by analyzing information provided by a third party (e.g., what a roommate conveys about Jill or what the experimenter reveals). In each scenario, inference is used to form a general impression of a person, and attribution theories presented more than a half-century ago are still relevant to understanding how such impressions form.

Observers observe what individuals do and pass judgment on others based on their findings. When a psychology professor responds dismissively to an unhappy student, for example, one can infer that this was due to some part of the professor’s disposition or poor conditions of the interaction. Classic social psychology experiments aimed to recreate similar settings in the lab. Participants in these research rated the attitude of a fictitious individual who advocated an unpopular political position in a vignette. This action was sometimes regarded as consensual, while other times it was described as compelled (e.g., an experimenter asked the person to advocate a specific position). Participants indicated that the target’s behavior reflected his or her actual attitude in all of these tests, even when the behavior was coerced by the situation. As a result, even when convincing situational grounds for that behavior exist, onlookers tend to believe that behaviors indicate attitudes and dispositions. As a result, viewers are more likely to assume that the dismissive lecturer is cruel, rather than that the behavior was prompted by the situation (e.g., the next class that was already streaming into the classroom). Correspond inferences are these views, and the tendency to link behaviors to dispositional factors is known as the correspondence bias and the fundamental attribution error.

Many scholars tried to figure out what causes such conclusions after the first discoveries, and three factors emerged. Dispositional inferences are more likely when a behavior is (a) distinctive (most professors don’t truly behave dismissively); (b) consistent (this particular professor responds this way in and out of class); and (c) consensual, according to Harold Kelley (others have also observed this behavior). Such assumptions are especially likely, according to Jones and Davis, when a specific behavior is unexpected (e.g., a known conservative endorsing a liberal position).

Researchers have recently looked into the psychological processes that allow for these assumptions. It appears that two processes are involved. In most cases, the first process is largely reflexive and leads to dispositional judgments. The second step is far more reflective and has a tendency to compensate for the limits presented by the situation.

Other recent research has looked into the prevalence of dispositional judgments. The propensity is so powerful that it can happen even when people have no purpose of forming an impression of others and are not watching actual conduct. Indeed, many social psychology research has taken advantage of this by giving study participants phrases that explain a behavior. Reading about someone who allegedly solved a mystery novel halfway through a book, for example, could cause one to believe that the person is intelligent. Spontaneous trait inferences are the name given to these quick decisions that suggest permanent qualities.

The attribution approach to studying human perception revealed a lot about how observations might lead to impressions of others. Person perception, on the other hand, relates to more direct judgments.

Perception by a single person
Many of the personal characteristics that observers see about another person do not require inference because they are directly observable and hence acknowledged right away. Categorical judgments about other people, such as sex, race, and age, are among these characteristics. According to some experts, seeing some personal qualities is unavoidable, and viewers immediately categorize people based on their group membership. What kind of sex is it? The first impressions that observers acquire of others are likely to be of what race they are and how old they are. These categorical judgments have been portrayed as necessary because they are made so easily and quickly. In social psychology, two of these required categorical judgements, sex and race, have gotten a lot of attention.

What Is Person Perception?

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