Ch. 4 – Social Perception

As you have no doubt noticed, other people are not easy to figure out.  Why are they the way they are?  Why do they do what they do?  How frequently and urgently we pose these questions is demonstrated in this touching story, sent in by a reader to the New York Times:

After ending an office romance, a female friend of mine threw a bag full of her former paramour’s love letters, cards, and poems into an outside dumpster.  The following day he called and wanted to know why she would throw out his letters.  She was stunned.  He explained that a homeless person going through the garbage read the correspondence and called the number found on a piece of stationary.  The homeless man was curious as to why two people who seemed so in love could now be apart.  “I would have called you sooner,” the man told the former boyfriend, “but this was the first quarter I was given today.” (DeMarco, 1994)

The homeless man was down on his luck – no home, no money, reduced to rifling through garbage cans – and yet that endless fascination with the human condition still asserted itself.  He needed to know why the couple broke up.  He even spent his only quarter to find out.

Aronson, E., Wilson, T., Fehr, B. & Akert, R. (2013),  Social Psychology (5th ed.).  Don Mills: Pearson Canada Inc.

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