The meaning of the following sources of error in social perception: stereotyping, halo effect and attribution errors.

Essay by MonkeymafiaUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, January 2006

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How do we decide what another person is like? Since this is a question of how we attribute personality traits, motives and abilities to other people, the theories around how we do this are known as attribution theory. As human beings we naturally try to sum people up and often due to this give ourselves the wrong picture of somebody. In this essay I am going to try to explain three of these sources of error, stereotyping, halo effect and attribution errors.

Errors in social perception are a common occurrence, one of these errors is known as the halo effect. We all have a number of general assumptions about what personality traits go together. The likelihood is that we like to see positive characteristics going along with other positive ones, an effect known as the halo effect. A man called Edward Thorndike in 1920 first named the halo effect; he gave people a description of a fictitious person containing one or two positive traits.

People then tended to see this fictitious person as having a whole lot more positive characteristics. The reverse holds true as well. The halo effect seems to be particularly powerful when we know relatively little about the person.

Many poor decisions by individuals and companies are compounded by, if not originated by, the halo effect. The halo effect refers to the tendency to rate a person's skills and talents in many areas based upon an evaluation of a single factor. The perceiver's general impression of a target distorts his or her perception of the target on specific dimensions. For example, an employee who has made a good overall impression on a supervisor is rated as performing high-quality work and always meeting deadlines even when work is flawed. This can also vary depending on the supervisor,