Topic 4 : Social Perception and Cognition.

Social perception is

It helps us to collect and remember information about others, and to make
inferences and judgments based on that information.

Being competent in social perception includes three domains of
(1) knowing that other people have thoughts, beliefs, emotions,
intentions, desires, and the like,
(2) being able to “read” other people’s inner states based on their
words, behavior, facial expression and the like, and
(3) adjusting one’s actions based on those “readings”.

Social perception is the process of forming impressions of
individuals. The resulting impressions that we form are based on
information available in the environment.

For example, we are more like to perceive a beautiful person as
being good (i.e. possessing desirable personality traits such as
kindness, sociability, intelligence) than less attractive people. This
particular bias is often called the halo effect.


In-group bias or In-group favoritism:

we tend to favor members of our in-group over those we perceive as outgroup members.

Under certain circumstances, however, we are likely to show bias against
in-group members, who behaves negatively; in particular, if he/she
transgresses against a group norm. Theorists believe this is linked to our
sense of social identity.
There are two basic views on morality.

1. The first view, a _____________________________, is associated with beliefs
that emphasize the autonomy of the individual and his or her individual
2. The second view, a _________________________, is based on the belief that
obligation to others is the basis of morality.

The process of social perception often makes people simplify the
incoming information and categorize it by groups.

Stereotypes can lead people to think that all members of a given
group have a particular trait.

Impaired social perception can have serious social consequences. For
example, an adolescent boy might misread a girl’s sympathetic smile as a
romantic invitation, and proceed to respond in a sexually offensive manner


A. Nonverbal Behavior

Nonverbal communication is defined as the way in which people
communicate, intentionally or unintentionally, without words—including
through facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, body position and
movement, touch, and gaze.

B. Facial Expressions of Emotion

Charles Darwin believed that human emotional expressions are universal—
that all humans encode (express or emit nonverbal behavior) and decode
(interpret the meaning of the nonverbal behavior of others) expressions in
the same way.

Why Is Decoding Sometimes Inaccurate?

• Facial expressions may sometimes be hard to interpret accurately because
people may display affect blends, facial expressions where one part of the face
registers one emotion and another part registers a different emotion.

Eye contact and gaze are also powerful nonverbal cues.

Personal space is a nonverbal behavior with wide cultural variation.


Social cognition attempts "to understand and explain how the thoughts,
feelings, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual,
imagined, or implied presence of others" (Allport, 1985, p. 3).

It studies the individual within a social or cultural context and focuses on
how people perceive and interpret information they generate themselves
(intrapersonal) and from others (interpersonal) (Sternberg, 1994).