Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Defnition of Interpersonal Communication in Psychology

This article will discuss Interpersonal Perception. Through this article, it is expected to be able to understand and explain interpersonal perception.

Personal and situational factors influence perception

It turns out that our perception is not just a recording of events or objects. The computer only processes the input entered at the time of punching. If column 12 is written seven, the computer will not convert it to eight. Not so human perception. The influence of mental needs and readiness, emotional mood, and background cultural influences determine our interpretation of sensation. If we call objects or events in the external world distal stimuli, and our perception of these stimuli we call percepts, then the perception will not be the same as the distal stimuli. The subjective process that actively interprets the stimuli, is called Fitz Heider as a constructive process. This process includes the biological and sociopsychological factors of the individual perpetrators of perception.

Defnition of Interpersonal Communication in Psychology
image source:

In the 1950s, among social psychologists, the term social perception was born which was defined as "the role of socially generated influences on the basic processes of perception" (Mc David and Harari, 1968:173). In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the focus of the research was no longer on social factors that influence perceptions, but on social objects and events. Social perception has now acquired a new connotation as a process of perceiving social objects and events. In order not to obscure the term and to underline humans (not objects) as objects of perception, the term interpersonal perception is used here. Perception of objects other than humans we call object perception.

Four Differences Between Object Perception and Interpersonal Perception

  1. In object perception, stimuli are captured by our senses through physical objects; waves, light, sound waves, temperature, and so on; In interpersonal perception, stimuli may reach us through verbal or graphic symbols conveyed by third parties.
  2. When we respond to an object, we only respond to the external properties of that object; we do not examine the mental properties of the object. In interpersonal perception, we try to understand what appears to our sense organs.
  3. When we perceive objects, they do not react to us; we don't give them an emotional reaction either. In interpersonal perception, your factors, the characteristics of the person you are responding to, and your relationship with that person, cause interpersonal perceptions to tend to be erroneous.
  4. Objects are relatively fixed, while humans are changing. Human-objected interpersonal perceptions then become easily mistaken.

No matter how difficult it is for us to perceive others, we are also successful in understanding others. The proof is, that we can still get along with them, can still communicate with them, and can still predict their behavior. Where do we get clues about other people? What leads to our conclusion that X is Y? We suspect other characteristics of external cues (external cues) that can be observed by these clues are verbal descriptions from third parties, proxemic, kinesic, facial, paralinguistic, and artifactual clues. Apart from the first, the others may be referred to as non-verbal cues. These are called situational factors.

Influence of Situational Factors on Interpersonal Perception

Description of Verbal

According to Solomon E. Asch's experiment, it is the first word that directs subsequent judgments. The effect of this first word became known as the primacy effect. According to Asch's theory, certain words guide all our judgments about other people. If the word is in the middle of a series of words, it is called a central organizing trait.

While Asch's theory is interesting for describing how the way people tell stories about other people affects our perception of that person, in reality, we rarely do. Rarely do we describe people by mentioning a series of adjectives. We usually start with the central trait, explain that trait in detail, then move on to other traits.

Proxemic Hint

Proxemics is the study of the use of distance in conveying messages; The term was coined by the intercultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall. Hall divides the distance into four patterns; public distance, social distance, personal distance, and intimate distance. The distance that individuals make from other people indicates the level of intimacy between them. Is it true that we perceive other people by looking at their distance from us? How do responders infer things from an interpersonal distance?

Based on his research on Anglo American culture, Edward Hall then concluded that there are four categories of distance in communication, namely as follows, intimate distance (0-18 inches), personal (1-4 feet), social (4-12 feet) and public (above). 12 feet).

First, like Edward T. Hall, we also infer a person's intimacy with another person from their distance, as we observe. Second, closely related to the first, consider responding to the nature of another person from the way that person distances himself from us. Third, the way people organize space affects our perception of that person.

Kinesic Cues

Kinesic cues are perceptions based on the motions of other people shown to us. Several studies have shown that careful perception of the properties of observing kinesics leads. So important are kinesic cues, that when traffic cues (such as speech) conflict with kinesic cues, people believe in the latter. Why? Because kinesic cues are the most difficult to be consciously controlled by the person who becomes the stimulus (hereinafter referred to as the persona of the stimulus-the person who is perceived; the opposite of the persona of the responder).

Face Hint

Among the various non-verbal cues, facial cues are the most important in recognizing the feelings of persona stimuli. Non-verbal communication expert, Dale G. Leather (1976:21), writes; “The face has long been a source of information in interpersonal communication. This is a very important tool in conveying meaning. Within seconds facial expressions can move us to the pinnacle of decisions. We study the faces of our companions and friends for subtle changes and nuances of meaning and they, in turn, study us.”

While facial cues can reveal emotions, not everyone perceives them carefully. Some are very sensitive to the face, some are not. Now social psychologists have found a measure of the accuracy of facial perception with a test called the FMST-facial meaning sensitivity test. With this test, our sensitivity to capture emotions on other people's faces can be scored.

Paralinguistic Instructions

What is meant by paralinguistics is the way people pronounce verbal symbols. So, if verbal cues indicate what is spoken, paralinguistic clues reflect how to pronounce it. This includes the high-low voice, tempo of speech, verbal style (dialect), and interaction (behavior when communicating or chatting). Loud voices will be perceived as angry or indicate something very important. The tempo of speech is slow, hesitant, and halting will be understood as an expression of low self-esteem or … stupidity.

The dialect ug is used to determine perception as well. While the communication behavior (way of speech) can provide clues about the personality of the persona stimuli, the sound reveals the emotional state.

Artifactual Hints

Artifactual clues include all kinds of appearance (appearance) from body pieces, cosmetics used, clothes, ranks, badges, and other attributes. When we know that a person has one trait (for example, beautiful or ugly), we assume that he has certain qualities (for example, cheerful or sad); this is called the halo effect. When we already like someone, then we tend to see the good qualities in that person and vice versa.

In addition to the various instructions above, verbal instructions also have a role. What is meant by verbal instructions here is the content of the communication of persona stimuli, not the way. For example, people who use the right choice of words, organize messages systematically, and express deep and comprehensive thoughts, will give the impression that they person is intelligent and educated.

Influence of Personal Factors on Interpersonal Perception

Interpersonal perception has a big influence not only on interpersonal communication but also on interpersonal relationships. Therefore, the accuracy of interpersonal perception will be very useful to improve the quality of our interpersonal communication. Some of the special characteristics of careful responders are:


Experience affects the accuracy of perception. Experience does not always go through a formal learning process. Our experience also increases through a series of events that we have faced. This is what causes a mother to immediately notice something wrong on her child's face or in other kinesic cues. Mothers are more experienced in perceiving their children than fathers. This is also why we have a harder time telling lies in front of those closest to us.


The constructive process that colors many interpersonal perceptions also involves a lot of motivational elements. These include biological motives, rewards and punishments, personality characteristics, and feelings of being threatened by personal stimuli.


In psychoanalysis, projection is known, as a way of ego defense. Projection is an unconscious externalization of subjective experience. People throw their feelings of guilt on others. A screaming thief is a typical example of projection. In interpersonal perception, people impose on others the qualities that exist in themselves, which they do not like. It is clear, that people who do a lot of projections will not carefully respond to persona stimuli, even blurring the true picture. On the other hand, people who accept themselves as they are, people who are not burdened with guilt, tend to interpret other people more carefully. Likewise, people who are calm, sociable, and friendly tend to give positive judgments to others. This is called the leniency effect (Basson and Maslow, 1957).

While verbal and non-verbal cues help us to make accurate perceptions, some personal factors make it difficult. Interpersonal perception becomes even more difficult because persona stimuli are not unconscious inanimate objects. Humans consciously try to present themselves to others as best they can. This is what Erving Goffman calls self-presentation.

Impression Forming Process


A teacher when dealing with diverse students will group them on certain concepts; smart, stupid, beautiful, ugly, diligent, or lazy. The use of this concept simplifies the many stimuli it receives. However, once these children are assigned a smart category, the teacher's perception of them will be consistent. All the traits of intelligent children will be imposed on them. This is called stereotyping.

This stereotyping also explains the primacy effect and halo effect that we explained earlier. The primacy effect simply shows that first impressions are crucial; because that impression determines the category. Likewise, the halo effect. The persona stimuli that we already like have a certain positive category, and in that category all the good qualities are stored.

Implicit Personality Theory

Giving a category means creating a concept. The concept of “food” groups donuts, bananas, rice, and biscuits in the same category. The concept of "friendly" includes the concepts of being friendly, helpful, tolerant, not scornful, and so on. Here we have the assumption that friendly people will be helpful, tolerant, and will not ridicule us. Everyone has their conception of what traits are related to what traits. This conception is a theory that people use when making impressions about other people. This theory has never been stated because it is called implicit personality theory. In everyday life, we are all psychologists, and amateurs, complete with sharing personality theories. One day you find your servant praying, you suspect he must be honest, pious, of high morals. Your theory is not necessarily true, because there are mosque or church visitors who are ungodly and immoral.


Attribution is the process of inferring the motives, intentions, and characteristics of others by looking at their apparent behavior (Baron and Byrne, 1979:56). Attribution may also be directed at oneself (self-attribution), but here we are only talking about attribution to others. Attribution is a fairly popular problem in the last decade in social psychology circles and has somewhat shifted the focus of attitude formation and change. Broadly speaking there are two kinds of attribution: causality attribution and honesty attribution.

Fritz Heider (1958) was the first to examine causality attribution. According to Heider, when we observe social behavior, we first determine what causes it; situational or personal factors; in attribution theory commonly called external causality and internal causality (Jones and Nisbett, 1972).

How do we know that other people's behavior is caused by internal factors and not external factors? According to Jones and Nisbett, we can understand the motives of persona stimuli by paying attention to two things. First, we focus our attention on behaviors that allow only one or a few causes. Second, we focus on behavior that deviates from the usual pattern of behavior.

According to the attribution theory of Harold Kelly (1972), we infer internal or external causality by considering three things: consensus, -whether other people act in the same way as responders; consistency – whether the responder acts the same in other situations; and distinctiveness – whether the person acts the same in other situations, or only in this situation. According to Kelly's theory, if these three things are very high, people will make external causality attributions.

Now how can we conclude that persona stimuli are honest or hypocritical (attribution of honesty)? According to Robert A. Baron and Donn Byrne (1979:70-71), we will pay attention to two things: (1) the extent to which the person's statement deviates from popular opinion and is accepted by people, (2) the extent to which the person benefits from us. with that statement.

Impression Management Process

The accuracy of interpersonal perception is facilitated by verbal and non-verbal cues, and complicated by the personal factors of the catcher. Perceptual difficulties also arise because persona stimuli try to display certain clues to create a certain impression on the catcher. Erving Goffman calls this process impression management.

This complete apparatus that we use to present ourselves is called the front. The front consists of the stage (setting), appearance (appearance), and style of behavior (manner). The stage is a series of space equipment and objects that we use. Appearance means using artificial clues. The style of behavior shows how we walk, sit, talk, look, and so on.

Influence of Interpersonal Perception on Interpersonal Communication

Our behavior in interpersonal communication is very dependent on interpersonal perception. Because of the wrong perception, often there is a failure in communication. Communication failures can be corrected when people realize that their perceptions may be wrong. Our interpersonal communication will be better if we know that our perceptions are subjective and tend to be wrong. We rarely reexamine our perceptions. Another result of our inaccurate perception is distorting the message that does not match our perception. Our perception of other people tends to be stable, while the perception of stimuli is that humans are always changing. The existence of a gap between perception and reality results in not only selective attention, but also misinterpretation of messages.