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Metaperception: what it is and how it influences us psychologically

There are currently more than 7.5 billion people living in the world. In Latin America there are more than 600 million people, while in Spain 47.3 million people live, in Madrid, 3.1; and in Barcelona, ​​1.6.

In the course of life we ​​will meet many people, a recent study determined the average at 5,000. One of our main concerns in our relationships is to know what the other thinks of us: we considers us nice, funny, or maybe intelligent, or, on the contrary, he quite dislikes us and conceals.

The term metaperception is used to refer to the beliefs and thoughts we have about how we are perceived by others. But how accurate is this perception that we have of others about ourselves? Do we think that the rest of the world sees us better or worse than it really does? In this article we will see what metaperception is, its relationship with self-concept and its degree of certainty.

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What is metaperception?

the way a person

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imagine the thoughts of others about yourself (that is, about that person who is imagining it) is called meta-perception in psychology. Meta-perceptions are based on a person's personal beliefs and assumptions, and may be inaccurate. They have to do with our self-concept and prejudices: some people may believe that everyone likes them, when in fact this is not true. Others, however, believe that everyone hates them, and this is not an accurate assumption either.

We are psychologically programmed to need to be included in a social universe, and although many say that they do not care what others think, in reality we are creatures that we love to fit in. In fact, social anxiety is an innate response to the possibility of being excluded from a group; Being rejected makes us very sad and uncomfortable.

To authentically connect with others and enjoy the deep satisfaction that comes from those connections, we have to be able to feel how people see us. We can't be inside our own personal dissection of how people see us after they meet us, so we have to rely on the accuracy of our meta-perceptions.

Studies have shown that people who have accurate metaperceptions of themselves tend to have more successful in social interactions as they are aware of how others perceive them and can use that awareness for guide their own behavior and improve the relationship with the other.

To navigate the social universe, we need to know what others think of us, although success will depend more on how we see ourselves and how accurate this vision is.

For example, if a good meta-perception does not exist, a person may believe that everyone else thinks that their behavior rude is funny and sassy, ​​and you can continue to act that way or even emphasize these traits by thinking they do Grace. This, in the long run, could cause others to reject you and even lead to social exclusion.

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Meta-perception and self-concept

As we can see, our self-concept is a great influence on the opinions that we believe others have: we alter the information we receive from others based on what we believe about ourselves.

The concept we have of ourselves is formed in our first years of life, mainly by our mother figure. According to different specialists, the way in which our mother interacts with us when we are babies, has a great influence on our self-concept, how we expect others to see us.

In fact, children tend to behave in a way that is consistent with the way they have been treated. If a child has a mother who is emotionally unresponsive, she will generally be cold and distant. Children who, on the other hand, have mothers who are attentive and affectionate generally connect well with others and have a good opinion of themselves.


Self-esteem and self-concept play an important role in how people see themselves. People who have low self-esteem and low self-concept may have difficulty believing that others see them in a positive light, as they rely on the opinions of others to form their own views.

People who are shy or socially anxious often believe that they appear boring or unattractive, even though others often do not doubt their attractiveness, but they do consider them to be arrogant. Somehow, for some specialists, shyness would be a trait of self-centeredness; Shy people worry excessively about what others think of them and believe that everyone is watching them, which is rarely the case. This concern prevents them from being spontaneous.

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Do we really know what others think of ourselves?

People believe that our internal states are evident to everyone; however, some experiments have shown that this is not true. In interventions with a target audience, it was observed that they were not aware of the nervousness shown by some speakers.

People expect others to share their vision of themselves immediately.. However, most people do not know the value of other people's attributes immediately, nor do they have an accurate idea. There is a kind of average consensus about how someone imagines himself. However, that knowledge cannot be applied to a particular person because there are many reasons outside of our view of ourselves that can influence how others see us the rest.

Each person has their own personal way of evaluating other people, just as they have their own personal way of evaluating themselves. People see themselves in a positive light, they also see others in a generally good light.

A study conducted by the University of Texas found that people who have a negative self-concept of themselves can negatively affect the way others see them. others: if in an interaction someone suspects that the person is constantly looking for their approval or wants to like them too much, this can influence the opinion that is made of the other.

Each person forms his own opinion of others based on his own concept of himself. to give coherence to their way of seeing the world and relationships, although this is not totally true and much less partial. For example, some people are "likers" and believe that everyone is smart and nice, but this is not true.

When we meet someone for the first time, we have to consider a lot and be attentive to a lot of stimuli. We have to listen, plan what we are going to say and adjust our non-verbal behavior and we do all of this almost without being aware of it. So it's hard to interpret other people's reactions correctly. We cannot guess what the other person's judgments are during the encounter and we tend to make nominal interpretations of things. It is not until we later recall the original interaction that we can reflect on the meta-perceptions and come to a conclusion.

Also, there is the context. Although, our personality is quite consistent across space and time, some situations can change who we are or how we act, or even erase our personality. The place you occupy and the role you play in a certain time and space can affect the way other people see you. You can be a cheerful and talkative person, but in your workplace you may not use those attributes due to different circumstances.

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Why are there differences between how we see ourselves and how others do?

Some studies indicate that when we look at ourselves, we focus on details specific we like, like a pimple we focus on certain parts of our body that we don't we like them. However, when we look at others, we consider their overall appearance, not their flaws. Therefore, people are generally more attractive to other people than they think they are.

We could also say that our minds are constantly using a processor that analyzes the physical world, based on the data that our mind collects. It would be a social comparison processor, and psychologists call it the contrast effect (which can be interpreted as "we feel more beautiful with ugly people and more ugly with people beautiful"). These comparisons happen constantly and automatically, and most of the time we are not even aware that we are doing them. Our general self-concept is made up of thousands of these comparisons..

Women in particular are affected by this phenomenon, since in today's society unattainable models of beauty are established as standards. Women compare themselves to catwalk models to assess their physical attractiveness. However, this does not happen in the case of intelligence, people compare their intelligence with ordinary people, not with Einstein.

The contrast effect can affect other moments of daily life such as work. If we have to be more concerned with our physique, we are likely to perform worse when it comes to performing certain tasks.

Finally, the way others perceive us and our way of evaluating it can change. If we want others to see us in a certain way, we have to let them know that we enjoy their company. Physical contact, smiling or showing interest in what you are talking about will make others feel that we care and we enjoy your company and you will also have a benefit in the perception that we make about ourselves in the the rest.

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