A metaperception is an individual's perception of another's perception of him or her. Symbolic interactionists posit that metaperceptions are based on social feedback, while social cognitivists posit that metaperceptions are formed via an inward turn to self-perception. We hypothesized that a situational factor, clarity of feedback, moderates whether individuals will tune into the message itself versus to self-perception: unambiguous feedback may elicit metaperceptions based on the feedback, while ambiguous feedback may elicit metaperceptions based on self-perception. To test this, 157 undergraduates selected as low or high in self-esteem were randomly assigned to receive either clear, channel-consistent (e.g., positive verbal/ positive nonverbal) feedback or unclear, channel-inconsistent (e.g., positive verbal/ negative nonverbal) feedback from a confederate. Results indicated independent effects of both self-esteem and verbal feedback. In addition, counter to prediction, metaperceptions formed in response to channel-consistent feedback were more in line with the self; metaperceptions formed in response to channel-inconsistent feedback were more in line with the verbal element of the message. Possible explanations and implications are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology