Perception In Interpersonal Communication

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Perception is vital to interpersonal communication, however, biases and distortions can often impact the accuracy of the interpreted message. Fritz Heider (as cited in Crisp, 2015) claims that “human behaviour is driven by the need to predict and control” (p.11), social information and interactions. This need for prediction and control manifests itself in perceptual distortions, inevitably leading to miscommunication and issues in a relationship, as it did in the issues I experienced between myself and my best friend. Discrepancies between primacy and recency, self-serving bias and selectivity played a significant role in the breakdown of my friendship, however a knowledge of the way these social conditions work may have allowed us to avoid…show more content…
This bias describes the way in which we claim our positive behaviour and characteristics are because of our personal disposition, while blaming negative traits and behaviours on situational factors (Knapp & Vangelisti, 2009; Solomon & Theiss, 2012). In a communication context, this can lead to the blame for miscommunication being placed on the other party, despite the potential for this to be an incorrect judgement. In reality, there are often two people who succumb to perceptual distortions who are subsequently both at fault for the miscommunication that occurs. My busy schedule lead me to suffer the self-serving bias in my communications with Jess. I used situational factors, such as having little free time, to explain my short-comings in taking the necessary steps to maintain a relationship with Jess, which included not contacting her regularly or taking other actions to show I still cared. Moreover, I justified my actions by telling myself that physical distance would inevitably lead to emotional distance, and that if Jess sincerely wanted to talk to me she would contact me first, about a subject that we are mutually interested in. When I began to realise the distance in our relationship, I acted as Knapp and Vangelisti (2009) described, “when we are distressed or unhappy with a relationship, we will use situational factors to explain positive behaviours and personality variables to explain negative behaviours” (p.149). As a result, when Jess did contact me first about a negative situation she was in, I blamed her personality variables rather than acting with empathy and trying to process the entire situation to best help her. This exemplifies the self-serving bias because by dismissing her problems as her own fault, I freed myself of the sense of duty to offer help and a potential solution, thus allowing me to focus on my own

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