Social Influences on Behavior

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Valerie Taylor
PSYC: 2005-11Social Influences on Behavior
Walden University
January 28, 2011
Instructor: Dr. Waller James

Friend of a Friend
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. 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...
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