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Theories of Interpersonal Perception and Self Presentation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3440 words Published: 16th Apr 2018

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  • Christian S. Bautista

Social Psychology Interpersonal Relationship


Solomon Asch (1946) found out that when information is given about another person, some parts of that information are given more importance than others. He called this central trait, which he said we are using to make decisions about the personality of the other person. In his warm-cold study, Asch felt that traits like warm and cold when put in conjunction with traits like practical or determined produced a completely different overall impressions. However, S. Nauts et al argued that Asch’s data (1946), do not provide clear evidence for a primacy of warmth effect; the open-ended responses that were important to Asch’s theorizing were not systematically analysed; the trait-pair choice measure seems unfit to test primacy of warmth; and the results of the ranking measure suggest that warmth was not central in determining participant’s impression.

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Stereotyping is an assumption we make about other people that maybe unconscious, but that influence our perception of others. Stereotypes can be split into two basic forms; individual and group stereotypes. However, negative stereotypes can lead to group polarization and prejudice, Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) (cited in Payne, S. and Walker, J., 1996, p 191) classroom experiment illustrated this. Rosenthal and Jacobson’s study became popular as it seemed to provide a powerful explanation for the low achievement of the so-called disadvantaged students. However, it was also criticized by educational psychologists on conceptual, methodological and statistical grounds. There were numerous attempts to replicate the study, consistently, only about one third of the studies attempting to demonstrate a self-fulfilling prophecy succeeded, and critics said that the phenomenon did not exist because the support was unreliable.

TAQ 2 (752 words)

Attribution theory deals with how the social perceiver uses information to arrive at causal explanations for events. It examines what information is gathered and how it is combined to form a causal judgement (Fiske, & Taylor, 1991). The aim of attribution is to understand how people interpret the words and actions of others and their own behaviour. An experiment by Thibaut and Riecken in 1955 shows how the subject perceives between someone who is on a higher status and of a lower status. In the procedure, the subject interacted with two other persons; one is of higher status than the subject and the other of a lower status. Both the person complied with the request of the subject, but when the subject was asked why each one had complied, the result was higher status compliance was put down as internal reason and external reason for the lowest status persons compliance. Furthermore, his evaluation from before to after the compliance was favoured to the highest status person. This study shows both antecedent and consequences of attributions for behaviour. In this study they adopted the ideas from Heider (1944) and Michotte (1963). It was assumed that the subject makes distinction and decides between internal and external cause for the other persons compliance on the basis of their perceived power. In attributing compliance to internal causes, positive attitudes are credited by the subject to the person. Attributing these qualities to a person has the consequence that the subject tends to like the person. In this experiment, essential element of attribution research is present. The research has hypotheses about the antecedents of causal attribution and the consequences of the subject making particular attributions (Kelley, H. and L. Michela, J.).

We tend to perceive that the observed behaviour is due to the qualities of the person, dispositional attribution, rather than due to external force, situational attribution. The passenger who complains about the bus schedule is likely to be regarded as disagreeable rather than in a hurry. A respectful greeting to your manager may be offered because you like her or it may be only because of the superordinate-subordinate situation which exists between you. Heider (1958), who developed the model called the Naïve Analysis of behaviour noted that people generally tend to perceive that human behaviour is somehow caused, as it can be used by us in predicting the likelihood of this happening again, rather than being due to chance. We can make two attributions; internal attribution, we attribute the behaviour of the person in their personality, character or attitude; and external attribution, the inference that the person is behaving in a certain way because of the situation he or she may be in. Heider also noted that a person’s behaviour particularly the first impression behaviour is so compelling that observers take it at face value and forget to take sufficient account of possible situational causes. When we make attribution, we must analyse the situation by going beyond the information given about the disposition of others and yourself as well as the environment and how it may be causing the person to behave in such a manner. However, order and predictability are the consequences in making inferences and inferences lead to behaviour. Once someone is given an initial label based on his observed behaviour, the label sticks and becomes self-validating as that person will continue to behave in the way now expected of him.

Another attribution theory is Kelly’s covariation model: he developed a logical model for judging whether a particular action should be attributed to the person or stimulus. There are three types of causal information which influence our judgements; consistency, consensus and distinctiveness. Consistency is when cause and effect regularly occur together; for example you may notice that you felt irritable in the morning after a late night out with little sleep, in fact irritability might occur every time you have a very late night. Others also reported the late-night irritability syndrome, this means you are not unique then the consensus is high. Distinctiveness is whether or not a particular behaviour occurred in the same way in the similar situation. According to Kruglanski (1977), people do not just naively come across situation but bring to each social situation a wide range of experiences and prior knowledge. This theory lacks of distinction between intentional and unintentional behaviour; intentional behaviour occurs when there is a desire for an outcome. Covariance treats explanation as a cognitive activity, no accounting for the social functions of explanations such as clarifying something for another person (Malle, B.F., 2003).


(165 words)


Biased Attribution held

Cognitive factors

Motivational factors


Fundamental Attribution bias – refers to the fact that behaviour is often viewed as a reflection of an actor corresponding internal disposition even it was actually caused by internal factors.

Mustafa who is never late recalls that Kimberly is always late for meetings at work. He attributed this behaviour as being lazy and questioned her capability of a promotion. He made his judgement based on this information.

Mustafa’s judgement was motivated by the fact that he must go to the gym after the meeting.


Actor-Observer bias – arises when we attribute other people’s behaviour to internal causes and our own to external causes. People tend to make different attributions whether they are the actor or observer in a situation.

Martha attributed Kimberly’s behaviour to the situation. She blamed the traffic and road works as the reason why Kimberly arrived late.

Martha seem to know Kimberly personally, she said she’d like to have a conversation with her before the meeting. She was not in a rush unlike Mustafa.


(190 words)

Self-presentational behaviour is any behaviour intended to create, modify, or maintain an impression of ourselves in the minds of others. Whenever we attempt to lead people to think of us in a particular way, we are engaging in self-presentation.

Self-presentation is very important aspect of our lives. How do we make others to believe that we possess various characteristic plays a huge role on our outcome in life. Self-presentation is a pervasive feature of our social life. However, self-presentational concerns also lead people to engage in behaviours that enhance their appearance but simultaneously jeopardize their own physical well-being and it even underlies self-destructive behaviour.

Self-monitoring allows human to measure their behavioural outcomes against a set of standards. Small children typically do not have the ability to self-monitor, it develops overtime. The ability to both understand and internalize other’s behavioural expectations is a developmental social milestone that will occur in middle childhood. Both self-presentation and self-monitoring shaped me to the person I am today. I was able to convince people; my wife; my friends; and my colleagues that I am worthy of their love, their friendship, their trust and their respect.


(156 words)

There are many factors involved, such as proximity, similarity, and physical attractiveness in the formation of relationships. It was found out that the friendliest person were those who live near on another. “Those who play together stay together”, in other words those who share similar interest in leisure activities form relationship. People of the same race, gender, age, and social background are likely to form a relationship. Person who are either similar “birds of the same feather flocks together” or that “opposites attract” forms a relationship. Physical attractiveness is also an important factor in formation of relationship, when we first meet someone their physical appearance is the first thing that will strike us before anything else.

Jade’s date didn’t work out for her because as I have said above, her date didn’t have any of the factors. He faked his photo, his description and his job so Jade and his date had nothing in common basically.


(235 words)

The main assumption of the social exchange theory (SET) is that individuals try to maximise their rewards; affection and attention and reduce their costs; time and effort. SET helps us understand the cost and rewards of relationships and it helps us predict how to keep and sustain relationships. However, it also has some weaknesses, SET neglects culture context. SET is based on a reward concept but not all cultures seek for a reward in a relationship. SET makes people seems individualistic and a reward seeking.

Equity theory extends the SET, it takes into account that rewards need to be proportionate, this is based in the assumption that people expect that a relationship to be fair. People will feel satisfied if what they put into the relationship is comparable with what they get out of it. Aspects of equity theory were unable to predict whether a relationship will be maintained or break down.

According to Balance theory we tend to be friends or to choose friends those people who help us maintain our balance view of the world. One simple advantage is that it recognizes that people sometimes notice inconsistent cognitions and that this inconsistency can lead to attitude change. It predicts how people will react to imbalanced and balanced situations. However, one consistent problem is that the predictions don’t work very well. Balance theory does not make any prediction about how imbalanced will be resolved.


(110 words)

Mechanical failure is when two suitable people of goodwill and good nature grow apart, where communication may be poor or interactions go badly is the most common cause of relationship breakdown. Long term relationships often fail due to lack of common activities, as well as individual hobbies, interest and friends. If both partners do not grow equally one partner might feel that they are carrying the load. In Scenario 2 the youngest child is now completing his GCSE, couples shares responsibility in rearing their children and this is their common interest. Since their younger son is becoming less of their common interest, it can become a cause of the problem.


(219 words)

Stages of Dissolution

(Ducks Phase Model)

Stage I

The Intrapsychic phase

Thinking about relationship in private, beginning to consider there is a problem in the relationship.

Stage II

The Dyadic phase

The dissatisfaction is discussed. This is when the troubled partner confronts the other and tries to correct these problems.

Stage III

The Social phase

At this point the decision is made by one or both partners to leave the relationship. The breakdown is made public.

Stage IV

The Grave Dressing phase

A post-relationship view of the breakup is established; both of the partners go through self-justification; protecting self-esteem and rebuilding life towards new relationships.

In 2006 Duck and Rollie added a fifth stage, Resurrection phase, when individual evaluate the relationship and attempting to re-instigate the relationship again.

One of the strength of this model is that it gives some insight into possible techniques that can be used so that the relationship can be repaired. It also has face validity as it is an account of relationship breakdown that we can relate to our own and others experiences

Brehm and Kassin (1996) sees the limitation of this study in that the women are more likely to stress unhappiness and incompatibility as reasons for breakup while men blame lack of sex suggesting gender differences that the model does not consider.


(93 words)

Love relationships are one of the greatest sources of happiness and meaning for every human being. Even the strongest relationships get off track sometimes because of the stresses of daily living, and mismatch expectations. The HEAL (Hear-Empathize-Act-Love) technique to repair damaged relationships by replacing defensive self-protection with compassionate presence and loving connection (Greenberg, M., 2013).

  • Hear – to listen to your partner, stay present and be there.
  • Empathize – allow your partner’s experience deeply affect you, share the feelings.
  • Act – address the concerns and show willingness to change.
  • Love – feel and express unconditional love.


Asch, (1946) as cited in https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=U7oeILtwkxoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false Date last accessed: 22 January 2015

Brehm and Kassin (1996) as cited in DLcentre workbook Module 6 Social Interaction Level 3.

Cowan & Curtis, 1994 as cited in http://www.understandingprejudice.org/apa/english/page9.htm Date last accessed: 26 Feb 2015

Cozzarelli, Wilkinson, & Tagler, 2001 as cited in http://www.understandingprejudice.org/apa/english/page9.htm Date last accessed: 26 Feb 2015

Eysenc, M. (2002). Simply Psychology. [Online]. 2nd Edition. East Sussex: Psychology Press. Accessed 22 January 2015. Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=U7oeILtwkxoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Greenberg, M., 2013. Four Steps to Relationship Repair With The H-E-A-L Technique. [online]. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201304/four-steps-relationship-repair-the-h-e-l-technique Accessed: 12 February 2015

Heider (1944) as cited in http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/attribution_theory_and_research.pdf 

Kelley, H. and L. Michela, J. Attribution Theory and Research. [online]. Available at: http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/attribution_theory_and_research.pdf Accessed: 19 March 2015

Kruglanski, 1977 as cited in DLCentre Ltd., 2009/11 Module 6. Social Interaction level 3

Lerner, 1980; Montada & Lerner, 1998 as cited in http://www.understandingprejudice.org/apa/english/page9.htm Date last accessed: 26 Feb 2015

Malle, B.F., 2003. Attributions as Behavior Explanations: Toward a New Theory. [Online].

Available at: http://cogprints.org/3314/1/Explanation_theory_03.pdf Accessed: 09 February 2015

Michotte(1963) as cited in http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/attribution_theory_and_research.pdf

Payne, S and Walker, J. (1996). Psychology for Nurses and the Caring Profession. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Rosenberg et al, (1968) as cited in https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=U7oeILtwkxoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false Date last accessed: 22 January 2015

Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) as cited in Payne, S and Walker, J. (1996). Psychology for Nurses and the Caring Profession.

S. Nauts et al. Forming Impressions of Personality. [online]. Available at: http://selfregulationlab.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Nauts-et-al-2014-Asch.pdf Accessed: 25 February 2015 

Tagler, 2001; Schuller, Smith, & Olson, 1994 as cited in http://www.understandingprejudice.org/apa/english/page9.htm Date last accessed: 26 Feb 2015

Thibaut & Riecken (1955) as cited in http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/attribution_theory_and_research.pdf



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