Perceiving Persons

1. People often make snap judgments about other people based on superficial cues, such as physical appearance and nonverbal demeanor.

2. Although we often form accurate impressions based on other people’s behavior, research shows that we are not accurate at knowing when someone else is telling the truth or lying.

3. Although we often form first impressions of others quickly, sometimes we are more analytical, observ- ing behavior and making personal or situational at- tributions for it according to the logic of attribution theory.

4. At least in Western cultures, however, people commit the fundamental attribution error when observing others, overestimating the role of a person’s disposi- tions and underestimating the impact of the situation they are in.

5. In forming impressions of other people, three sets of traits loom as particularly important: how competent the person is, how warm, and how moral.

6. Although we tend to form impressions of others by mentally averaging their various traits, a number of bi- ases come into play—for example, some traits are more central to the overall impressions we form than others.

7. Once we form an impression of someone, we become slow to change that impression when faced with new information that is nonsupportive or even contradictory.

8. Once we form an impression, we engage in confirma- tion biases, tending to seek new information in ways that are likely to confirm what we already believe.

9. Beginning with classic research on the effects of teacher expectations on student performance, research also shows that our perceptions of others can influence our behavior and, in turn, their behavior, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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