Chapter

11 Social Cognition and Perception

Personality and Social Psychology

II. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

  1. Galen V. Bodenhausen PhD1,
  2. Javior R. Morales PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop205011

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Bodenhausen, G. V. and Morales, J. R. 2012. Social Cognition and Perception. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 5:II:11.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Northwestern University, Department of Psychology, Evanston, Illinois, USA

  2. 2

    Northwestern University, Department of Psychology, Evanston, Illinois, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

Abstract

Social cognition consists of the psychological processes through which individuals construct a meaningful understanding of their social environment. A key assumption of this approach is that it is the perceiver's subjective construal of the social world—rather than the objective circumstances—that controls much of human behavior. However, subjective understandings often emerge quite rapidly and automatically, with little effort or intention on the perceiver's part. We review the core processes through which these subjective understandings are constructed and used. In particular, we examine the roles of commonsense reasoning processes, automatic inferences based on appearance and behavior cues, egocentric projection, and stereotyping in constructing social impressions. We also review theoretical approaches that situate person perception in various contexts of social interdependence and interpersonal relationships. We conclude by considering some of the ways in which ostensibly basic processes of social cognition are shaped by cultural conditioning, producing cross-cultural variations in the nature of person perception.

Keywords:

  • automaticity;
  • person perception;
  • projection;
  • social categorization