SOCIAL PERCEPTION & ATTRIBUTION
Ivy Greatel V. Dalandangan
Social perception is the study of how people form impressions of
and make inferences about other people.
Refers to the processes through which we use available
information to form impressions of other people, to assess what
they are like.
We learn about other's feelings and emotions by picking up on
information we gather from their physical appearance, and
verbal and nonverbal communication.
Facial expressions, tone of voice, hand gestures, and body
position are just a few examples of ways people communicate
A real world example of social perception would be
understanding that someone disagrees with what you said
when you see them roll their eyes.
Social perceptions can obviously be flawed - even skilled
observers can misperceive, misjudge, and reach the wrong
conclusions. Once we form wrong impressions, they are likely
Attribution is being able to successfully identify a person's
behavior based on the current context of the situation
Attribution is the process through which we link behavior to its
causes - to the intentions, dispositions and events that explain
why people act the way they do.
For example, if you are at a wedding, you attribute everyone's
happiness because getting married is a cause to celebrate.
Most importantly, social perception is shaped by
individual's motivation at the time, their emotions, and their
cognitive load capacity. All of this combined determines
how people attribute certain traits and how those traits are
Implicit Personality Theory
• A large component of Social Perception is attribution.
• Attribution helps individuals understand and rationalize the
behavior of others through the use of information gathered by
attribution began with
the work of Fritz
Heider in the early
part of the 20th
• People make attributions to understand the world around
them in order to seek reasons for a particular individual’s
• When people make attributions they are able to make
judgments as to what was the cause of a certain behavior.
• However, a common mistake people make is called
Fundamental Attribution Error.
Fundamental Attribution Error
• This means that the original explanation for the behavior was mis
• An example of this would be a mother misattributing her so
n's excitement to sugar from the candy he just ate, as opposed to
the real cause of his excitement being that his favorite TV show
• This is called attribution theory.
• “Attribution theory deals with how the social perceiver uses
information to explain events.
• It examines what information is gathered and how it is
combined to form a causal judgment” (Fiske & Taylor, 1991).
• Attribution theory is concerned with how and why ordinary
people explain events as they do.
How do we attach meaning to other's behavior, or our own?
Implicit personality theory
• Implicit personality theory is commonly associated with social
perception because it identifies the biases we exhibit based on
the limited information we know about unfamiliar people.
• Every day we interact with unfamiliar people and in those brief
moments of interaction we pick up on the social cues presented
and opinions are formed.
• Implicit Personality Theory states that people divide the
personality traits of others into two groups:
Central/Primary traits Peripheral/Secondary traits
Central traits are the highly
influential traits that have a
strong impact on the overall
impression of an individual.
Peripheral traits are those
produced and have smaller
impact on the overall
• Implicit personality theory helps explains social perception thro
ugh the use of central and peripheral traits.
• When you are paying at the check out line at the grocery store an
d the cashier woman comes across as snappy and rude thes
e are the central traits because we as customers want polite
service. From that central trait, as you walk away with your groce
ries the peripheral traits, such as attractiveness or intelligence i
s tainted by her central trait of being rude.
• Implicit Personality Theory helps people to socially perceive
others by generating a broader outlook on their personality using
central and peripheral traits and use these traits to categorize
people to predict their behavior.
• According to the implicit personality theory, people pay attention
to a variety of cues, including visual, auditory, and verbal cues
to predict and understand the personality of others.
• These help in filling in the gap of the unknown information about
a person, which is key for social skills and social interactions.
• Social perception refers to the initial stages in which people
process information in order to determine another individual’s
mind-set and intentions
Social bias is defined as
"prejudicial attitudes towards
particular groups, races, sexes, or
religions, including the conscious
or unconscious expression of these
attitudes in writing, speaking, etc
Some of the major effects of social
Dunning–Kruger effect – an effect by which people may perform
badly at a task, but lack the mental capability to evaluate and
recognize that they have done poorly (Hawes).
Egocentric bias – The tendency to give more credit to ourselves
from positive outcomes than an observer.
Overconfidence bias – Overestimating one's own confidence
(part of the Dunning–Kruger effect).
Forer effect (Barnum effect) – Placing high belief in a general
description thinking it was meant specifically for an individual.
One example is horoscopes
Status quo bias – Tendency to favor certain circumstances
because they are familiar.
Ingroup bias – Behaving a certain way to become more
favorable in a group
Stereotyping – Attributing traits to people based on certain traits
of the group.
Halo effect – Tendency to believe in the nature of a person
(good/bad) based on general traits of people
False consensus – Assuming others agree with what we do
(even though they may not).
Projection bias - Assuming others share the same belief as us.
Actor-observed bias - Tendency to blame our actions on the
situation and blame the action of others base on their