Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

ISBN : 9780195366600

Lee Jussim
486 Pages
162 x 239 mm
Pub date
Apr 2012
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Social Perception and Social Reality contests the received wisdom in the field of social psychology that suggests that social perception and judgment are generally flawed, biased, and powerfully self-fulfilling. Jussim reviews a wealth of real world, survey, and experimental data collected over the last century to show that in fact, social psychological research consistently demonstrates that biases and self-fulfilling prophecies are generally weak, fragile, and fleeting. Furthermore, research in the social sciences has shown stereotypes to be accurate. Jussim overturns the received wisdom concerning social perception in several ways. He critically reviews studies that are highly cited darlings of the bias conclusion and shows how these studies demonstrate far more accuracy than bias, or are not replicable in subsequent research. Studies of equal or higher quality, which have been replicated consistently, are shown to demonstrate high accuracy, low bias, or both. The book is peppered with discussions suggesting that theoretical and political blinders have led to an odd state of affairs in which the flawed or misinterpreted bias studies receive a great deal of attention, while stronger and more replicable accuracy studies receive relatively little attention. In addition, the author presents both personal and real world examples (such as stock market prices, sporting events, and political elections) that routinely undermine heavy-handed emphases on error and bias, but are generally indicative of high levels of rationality and accuracy. He fully embraces scientific data, even when that data yields unpopular conclusions or contests prevailing conventions or the received wisdom in psychology, in other social sciences, and in broader society.


Section I - Introduction: This Book, Basic Ideas, and the Early Research
Chapter 1 - Introduction: How Might Social Beliefs Relate to Social Reality?
Chapter 2 - Social Reality is Not Always What it Appears To Be: The Scientific Roots of Research on Interpersonal Expectancies
Chapter 3 - The Once Raging and Still Smoldering Pygmalion Controversy
Section II - The Awesome Power of Expectations to Create Reality and Distort Perceptions
Chapter 4 - The Extraordinary Power of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Chapter 5 - The Extraordinary Power of Expectancies to Bias Perception, Memory, and Information-Seeking
Section III - The Less Than Awesome Power of Expectations to Create Reality and Distort Perceptions
Chapter 6 - The Less Than Extraordinary Power of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Considerations Based on Common Sense, Daily Life, and a Critical Evaluation of the Early Classic Experiments
Chapter 7 - You Better Change Your Expectations Because I Will Not Change (Much) to Fit Your Expectations: Self-Verification as a Limit to Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Chapter 8 - The Less Than Awesome Power of Expectations to Distort Information-Seeking
Chapter 9 - The Less Than Awesome Power of Expectations to Bias Perception, Memory and Judgment
Section IV - Accuracy: Controversies, Criticisms, Criteria, Components, and Cognitive Processes
Chapter 10 - Accuracy: Historical, Political, and Conceptual Objections
Chapter 11 - Accuracy: Criteria
Chapter 12 - Accuracy: Components and Processes
Section V - The Quest for the Powerful Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Chapter 13 - Teacher Expectations: Accuracy and the Quest for the Powerful Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Chapter 14 - Do Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Accumulate or Dissipate?
Section VI - Stereotypes
Chapter 15 - On the Pervasiveness and Logical Incoherence of Defining Stereotypes as Inaccurate
Chapter 16 - What Constitutes Evidence of Stereotype Accuracy?
Chapter 17 - Pervasive Stereotype Accuracy
Chapter 18 - Stereotypes and Person Perception: Can Judging Individuals on the Basis of Stereotypes Ever Increase Accuracy?
Chapter 19 - Stereotypes Have Been Stereotyped!
Section VII - Conclusion
Chapter 20 - Important, Interesting and Controversial Work on Accuracy, Bias, and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies that Did Not Fit Elsewhere
Chapter 21 - The 90% Full Glass Contests the Scholarly Bias for Bias

About the author: 

Lee Jussim is Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at Rutgers University. He has published extensively on stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, self-fulfilling prophecies and expectancy-confirming biases, and accuracy in social perception. He fully embraces scientific data, even when that data yields unpopular or politically incorrect conclusions (many of which can be found in this book).

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