Social perception is a term in social psychology that defines an individual’s ability to create an impression or judgment of other individuals or social groups. This is formed through observation and understanding existing information about an individual and drawing out conclusions from the information. This kind of perception is classified under social cognition, the brain’s ability to store and process available information associated with creatures of the same species. Aside from available information, observers with different moods and temperament can account for a variety of perceptions (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-social-perception.htm)Social perception allows individuals to make judgments and impressions about other people. It is primarily based on observation, although pre-existing knowledge influences how we perceive an observation. A person’s smile or smirk towards a subject can hugely influence another person’s opinion of it, whether positive or negative. Social perception is an individual’s way of making order of his environment and perceiving a person or an object as such can greatly determine the individual’s actions. (wisegeek).
How we perceive our world, shapes our reality of it. Perception enhances and gives substance to the information we collect via our five senses. It helps us understand ourselves and our environment. Social psychologists also began to conduct studies on social perception - a fundamental cornerstone within the field of social psychology (Baron et al, 2006). The main goal is to first define what is meant by the term social perception, then examine two main aspects of social perception: non-verbal communication channels and attribution. Specifically, attention is given to addressing what non-verbal communication channels are and the substantial impacts they can have on our thoughts, feelings, and ultimately the inferences we make about other people. Non-verbal communication is the term used to define communication that takes place between our self and others without the use of words (Baron et al, 2006). An example of non-verbal communication channels can be found from inferences we draw about another's appearance. This could involve how they dress, their stature, and other physical qualities they possess. Attributions are the explanations we infer while observing others, that help us to define the assessments we make about why others behave the way they do and make predictions as to how they will behave in the future (Baron et al, 2006). (http://voices.yahoo.com/aspects-social-perception-within-field-social-2315168.html)