Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 3: Perceiving individuals (pp. 5793)

What's it about?

Impressions of other people are influenced by many cues. These cues are interpreted with the help of associated or accessible knowledge.

When processing information superficially, people infer traits from observable behaviors. Often traits are also inferred when situational causes actually account for behaviors.

When processing systematically, people make causal attributions for behavior. A cause is more likely to be considered as an explanation when it is accessible or salient. To create an overall impression, knowledge is organized by clustering behaviors, and by creating causal links among characteristics. When people devote time and effort to forming an impression, biases may still occur.

Impressions are a basis for decisions and behaviors. Impressions alter the interpretation of later information, often lead people to seek consistent information, and elicit confirming actions from others, leading to impressions that are resistant to change. When people encounter information that is clearly inconsistent with an impression, they may take it into account. Most of the time, however, people's impressions are difficult to change.

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 3 introduction
  2. Forming first impressions: Cues, interpretations, and inferences
  3. Beyond first impressions: Systematic processing
  4. The impact of impressions: Using, defending, and changing impressions
  5. Chapter overview (PDF)
  6. Fill-in-the-blanks
  7. Multiple-choice questions