Individual Perception And Society

by Sharon White - Date: 2007-01-06 - Word Count: 277 Share This!

People do not simply acquire knowledge about the objects in their social world. Instead, individuals employ this knowledge, be it information about the positively and negatively valued attributes of the object, about their past behavioral experiences with the object, and/or about emotions that the object has evoked in the past, as the basis for forming for an attitude toward, or summary evaluation of the object.

By imposing an evaluative structure on their social world, individuals can more easily cope with the demands of the social environment. Their attitudes provide an indication of which objects to approach and which to avoid, all in the interest of maximizing positive outcomes and minimizing negative outcomes. In the study of personality, researchers have often had difficulty generating empirical support for propositions that seem, on the face of them, obviously true. Such has been the case, for example, in research on the relation of opinions to personality. Most researchers and laypeople alike would agree that personality is expressed, at least to some extent, in the opinions an individual holds. That is, we tend to view attitudes as significant expressions of the self: We assume that we have learned something about a person when we know his or her attitudes and assume further that these attitudes should relate, in some lawful way, to other aspects of the person.

At a general level, these claims are uncontroversial. But when we move to more specific research questions about how personality is manifested in people's opinions, which other aspects of the person should be consistent with his or her attitudes, and what the source of any observed consistency might be, answers are much more difficult to come by.

Related Tags: social, knowledge, society, individual perception, behavioral

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