Person Perception

The first person is someone whom I’ll probably never see again. Pam a co-worker and I decided to go shopping at the mall. She was being dropped off at my house by a male friend of hers named Demeitrius. He was introduced, and we all had a cup of java before going our separate ways. My initial impression of him was that he was gay, very discriminate about his attire, attractive and a people person. He was well groomed and had this great big smile when we shook hands. Even though we only had just met, he had a lot to say within those thirty minutes.

As a matter of fact he over talked Pam and me about shopping deals the entire time fueled with a sense of humor. He was a six feet plus weighing in at around 350 or so and didn’t appear to be a shy person at all and exuded more femininity than I (being female) ever had. He didn’t appear to be self conscious about the shiny lip gloss, green contact lenses or polished nails that he sported. The contour of his speech was different and higher pitched than most men. Generally, a higher pitched voice indicates a person is a liar, but in Demeitrius case; I believe it was an effort to be more feminine. I determined that he was a very likable person.

First Impressions Evaluated Forming impression entails separate inferences in part by: evaluation, negativity effect, positivity bias, and emotional information. The first thing I did when forming an impression of Demeitrius was an evaluation of liking or disliking him. His great big smile and enthusiastic handshake was received well. “A general evaluative bias in person perception is to evaluate people positively; a phenomenon termed the positivity bias” (Taylor, et al 2006). The social context upon which we met dictated a positive bias, because of the commonality of being friends with the same person.

We expected a positive interaction in that we knew nothing of each other before hand. Demeitrius personality and physical appearance was not usual of a man. I suppose someone who felt insecure or uncomfortable with someone as large,loud and displaying gay tendencies may have viewed those qualities as negative. For this reason “people may simply pay more attention to those negative qualities and give them more weight” (Taylor, et al 2006). Demeitrius was also well received because he appeared to be happy; an impression that was quickly inferred from his witty and comical conversation.

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I didn’t know it then but now I know that the use of a weighted average approach was used to combine the little information I had on Demeitrius. An evaluation of his traits found him to be tall, neat, and funny; but a little discourteous in the art of the conversation. Although evaluation, negativity effect, positivity bias and emotional inferences are integrated into forming an impression; only “certain information was important” (Taylor, et al 2006) enough to use in my schema to draw an inference about Demeitrius.

Schemas and Causal Attribution Demeitrius was neatly placed in my person schema of being a live wire (extroverted). “Schemas are stereotypes or preconceptions we hold about the categories that define people” (Taylor, et al 2006). The fact that he was vociferous and didn’t have a problem talking incessantly put him in this category. Categorizing Demeitrius helped me to know how to relate to him. I didn’t feel as though my conversation with him had to be overly guarded. He was a very colorful person, in dress and conversation.

Demeitrius reminded me of some of the guys I knew while working in hair salons. Most of them were outgoing, people persons and created the most colorful hairstyles. I didn’t know what he did for a living, but he fit the prototype of being a hairdresser or some career that would be predominately female oriented. If he didn’t work in a beauty salon, I was willing to bet that his closest friends were women. Even though he was a large guy, attention to detail in his grooming and willingness to discuss topics such as shopping deals are major attributes to the interests of most women.

Demeitrius behavior was not surprising to me, it was his appearance that was inconsistent with what I was used to. In the past I’ve had friendships with men that are extroverted and gay; but what was unexpected was the extent of his femininity. His nails were manicured better than mine. His lips were glossier than a New York hooker’s. As big as he was his walk was as soft as a house cat. “Many of our causal attributions are virtually automatic, implicit in the impressions we form of other people and situations” (Taylor, et al 2006). I had to make sense of the circumstances as they were unfolding at that time.

All of my other causal attributions were pretty much dispositional and automatic, but because of the surprising circumstance of his appearance; it forced me to pay closer attention as I was not accustomed to them. More than a Casual Aqaintance The second person is my best friend Crystal, whom I’ve known for over ten years. Crystal is a forty year old mother of three, married and employed as a military computer specialist. She was told by her sister that I ran a home daycare. When I first met her, she was in her military uniform knocking on my door seeking childcare services for her first young daughter.

She was tiny in stature, attractive and very anxious about securing childcare. My initial impression of her was hard working, employed and a caring young mother. She sat and talked to me for quite awhile about her current circumstance with the child’s father and needing childcare as soon as possible. Her revelations appeared to be sincere. She was attentive to her daughter while we worked out the details of her. Over the years we became close and I’ve gotten to know her a lot better. Traits, Roles, Motivations, and Emotions

Crystal being dressed in her military attire alerted me that she had traits of being a disciplined, trustworthy and a dependable individual; mainly because that’s what the military represents. She wore her military uniform which represented the “figure-ground principle of attention being drawn to stimuli that stand out against background” (Taylor, et al 2006). Knowing this summed up that she was in a good position to pay for her child’s care without depending on the dad. Correct judgment on one’s ability to pay their bill was crucial to the success of my small business.

Categorizing is important in this context because it induces momentum in the information-processing time. Her small frame and child-like facial features inferred that she was an honest person. Her role was acceptable to me in that I too am female and had served in the military. “Role schemas are more useful than traits for recall” (Taylor, et al 2006). Maybe she wore her uniform to our interview knowing how socially accepted it is in this country. The fact that she was attentive to her daughter represented a behavior that is expected of a mother.

Naturally, I inferred that she was nurturing and from that I inferred that she was warm; “the implications that traits have for other traits is called implicit personality theory” (Taylor, et al 2006). Without really knowing her, that behavior could have summed up her total personality. Turns out I was right about that because she’s the same way with her other two daughters in different contexts as well as with friends. “Research shows that people remember more and organize the information differently when they expect to interact with someone in the future” (Taylor, et al 2006).

After all, I would be responsible for her child and would have to communicate with her on a daily basis. The inferences that I had of Crystal were important which led to a more systematic style of processing as opposed to rapid heuristically based processing. “Mood may influence not only the content of impressions we form of others but also the process we use in forming them” (Taylor, et al 2006). I believe a person’s emotional state can have an effect on inferences. However, my initial meeting with Crystal was after normal business hours, so things were calm and she had my full attention.

My mood was good and that is probably why I could use categorical processing in impression formation as opposed to piecemeal processing. Disposition or Situational in Different Cultures? Attributing cause to behavior generally tends to differ between meeting someone in passing and knowing someone for a long time. “We are more likely to make situational attributions for the behavior of people we know very well than for those we know less well” (Taylor, et al 2006). Meeting Demeitrius for the first and last time did not afford me more information to take into account, such as personal goals or how he sees the world.

I had to depend more on general abstract traits to build an impression of him. The exact opposite was true for Crystal. Culturally, the United States tend to explain behavior in terms of enduring dispositions than in Asian countries. In Eastern countries the role of context and situational factors as causes of behavior is more likely to be acknowledged (Taylor, et al 2006). This causal theory is due to Eastern cultures taking a more complex holistic view and taking a greater amount of information before making an attribution.

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