Social Perception

Essay by katiegilmartinCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2006

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

While walking down the sidewalk you pass a Caucasian man in a suit talking on a cell phone and then a young looking African American girl with a baby. What do you think when you see the man? That he is a successful businessman perhaps. And what do you think when you see girl? Just another unwed, single teenage mother who will drop out of school and live off the tax money the businessman is faithfully paying maybe. While perhaps in reality, the man is unemployed and living off welfare and has just come from a job interview and the girl is making extra money babysitting to save for college. These kinds of assumptions are an excellent example of social perception.

Social perception is the process through which people interpret information about others, draw inferences about them, and develop mental representations of them. Social perceptions are made up mostly by schemas.

Schemas are the mental representations about people and social situations a person has. A schema can influence the things a person notices or ignores about another person. Also, a schema will help decide what types of things we remember about a person. The schema will also affect the way another persons behavior is judges by a person. Overall, a schema helps a person 'fill-in-the-blanks' about another person. Schemas can be a positive thing as well as negative. A correct schema will help someone categorize a person quickly and react to a social situation in an appropriate way. Yet, incorrect schemas create false expectations and errors in judgment about the person/people that could eventually lead to narrow-mindedness or prejudice.

Another important part of social perception is impressions. Schemas are the basis of all first impressions. That first impression will then become the basis of the later perceptions of another's...