Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The situation characteristics that affect social perception

In the last blog, we looked at the characteristics of the target and its influence in the process of social perception. In today's blog, we look at the characteristics of the situation and the influence of this on the social perception.

The following is a our common experience as students - When we meet a professor in our class we would perceive differently, from say when we meet the professor at his room or at some other social gathering or for that matter of fact after graduation from the institute. This context of the interactions is called the "social context", and definitely these have an influence on the way we perceive the situation. Again, we would need to remember, that these contexts and situations and the corresponding behavior would also be perceived differently from one culture to another.

There are some situations, in which we get a strong cue of the appropriate behavior. In these situations, we believe that the behavior of the individual would be influenced primarily by the situation and may not be the individual's general behavior. This is called "Discounting Principle" (The assumption that an individual's behavior is accounting for by the situation).

The above two explain how the characteristics of the situation influence the social perception process. However, to get an apt understanding of the same, we would need to consider the combined effect of the characteristics of the perceiver, target and the situation. However, even a thorough understanding of these characteristics cannot free us from the barriers of social perception. We shall discuss about these in the next few blogs.

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