Social perception is understood as the process by which people interpret social reality . In other words, social perception refers to how we perceive others and how we interpret their behavior.
The idea of perception applied to social relations
Perception is one of the classic themes of psychology. In this sense, psychology in the beginning of the 20th century focused on the study of the laws that determine our sensory perception. Over time, some psychologists have observed that these laws can be applied in the social field.
Aspects of social perception
Interpersonal perception is divided into two areas: the perception of other individuals and the perception of social groups . Social Perception
The process of perception means, in the first place, the existence of an observer and a person who is the object of perception. The observer adopts the role of judge, perceives the behavior of others and gives it meaning.
The information we receive from others is complex, as the information we receive is quite varied.
So, in the first place, we notice the physical characteristics of the neighbor (its structure, height and appearance in general). In this way, we perceive the unobservable characteristics of the subject, which involves a series of feelings and emotions. Also, we can capture the characteristics of his personality, his ideology and abilities. The perception process also involves the observer’s culture and past experience.
One of the key elements in social perception processes is the issue of social role. We usually recognize the other through the role they play in society, especially the prestige and professional success of some people, but we underestimate those who play a role of lesser social recognition.
The role of prejudice in the perception of the other
When we meet a person our perception of him may be conditioned because of our prejudices. Prejudice is a preconceived idea. Opinion about others based on prejudice is a strategy that leads to the creation of stereotypes. Thus, we classify someone not for their personal qualities, but for other reasons ( social class , ethnicity, language or way of dressing).
Social perception based on prejudices is a source of conflict, as judging the other without previously knowing him/her is an unfair and unintelligent approach.