How do people develop their behavior? From the first glance, it all seems so obvious, yet in fact it’s a quite complicated process. When we haven’t been exposed to something before, how do we react when we finally are exposed to this thing? Based on what? Well, this is exactly what a self-perception theory deals with. Developed in early 1970’s, this is a theory that can almost perfectly explain our behavior.
So what does a self-perception theory actually tell us? It tells us that when we develop attitudes and emotional responses towards things by looking at our own behavior. Observing our behavior, we then make certain conclusions as to what actually drove that behavior.
There are lots of theories of perception in physiology, but this might be one of the least intuitive ones. It’s just sounds weird at first – how can we develop our attitude by looking at…ourselves? We tend to think that all of this works in another order. Most people simply think that be act solemnly based on our personalities. Yet research proves that it’s not always the case, at that self-perception theory can in fact be completely true. The core of this theory is the fact that we analyze our own actions basically the same way we analyze the actions of a different person. The theory is also pretty skeptical about the concept of the “free will” as it says that most of our actions are socially influenced.
At http://www.sciencedirect.com there is an interesting article that will perfectly explain the self-perception theory in organizational behavior. Also, for all people saying that “it’s just a theory” there has been more than enough self-perception theory examples to suggest that it might be on the right track. In fact, Daryl Bem has conducted lots of experiments in order to support his research. One of the experiments was this – a group of people listened to a recording of a man talking about pet-turning with lots and lots of excitement. After listening to the speech, one group of people was told that the man was paid 1$ for this recording, while others were told that he was given a 20$. The first group mostly agreed, that he probably really enjoyed the task, while the second one thought that he didn’t. It was obvious that both groups have come up with their conclusions based on observing their own behavior, which proves the entire theory.
Some people like to make self-perception theory vs cognitive dissonance comparison, but it’s not really a fair comparison to make. In fact, most researches in most self-perception essay will agree that the theory is basically an alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance rather that its opposition. This actually quite a fascinating thing to study!