Social perception and social reality: A reflection-construction model

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This article presents a reflection-construction model of relations between social perception and social reality. The introduction suggests that 1 theme underlying much social psychological theorizing and research is the belief that social perception is a major force in the creation (construction) of social reality. Strong constructivist perspectives largely ignore or discount accuracy in social perception. To redress this limitation, a new theoretical model is presented, the reflection-construction model, which explicitly specifies several ways in which social perception may relate to social reality. This model incorporates phenomena such as the ability of social perception to accurately predict without influencing social reality; to create social reality through self-fulfilling prophecies, self-sustaining prophecies, and self-defeating prophecies; and to lead to biased judgments regarding social reality. When interpreted through the reflection-construction model, empirical research on relations between social perception and social reality often provides more evidence of accuracy than of self-fulfilling prophecy or biases. The evidence, therefore, supports a weaker version of the social constructivist view.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-73
Number of pages20
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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