What are the factors that influences social perception?

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There are many factors that can influence social perception.  Social perception can be defined as the process of perceiving other people.  It is the process by which we look at other people and decide what they are like and how we will respond to them.  Such a process can be influenced by a number of factors.

One of the most important of these factors is physical appearance.  Our perception of other people is very often conditioned by how they look.  We judge attractive people differently from people who are not attractive.  We judge people of one race differently than we judge those of another.

This leads us to another factor that influences social perception—stereotyping.  Our society has built up stereotypes about what certain kinds of people are like.  We have stereotypes about blonde women.  We have stereotypes about people who are of various races.  We have stereotypes about people who wear certain kinds of clothes.  Our perceptions of people who fall into stereotyped groups tend to be shaped by those stereotypes.

Our perceptions are also shaped by the context in which we are trying to perceive a person.  If we are trying to determine whether a person would be fun to go out with, we will tend to focus on different qualities about them than we would if we were deciding who to hire for a given job.  If we looked at the same person in those two different circumstances, we would perceive them differently because we would look for and evaluate different characteristics.

There are many other factors that can influence social perception, but physical appearance, stereotypes, and context are three of the most important factors.

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