Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Alpha and Beta Press

  • David G. SerfassAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University Email author 
  • , Nicolas A. BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University
  • , Ryne A. ShermanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University

Synonyms

Objective and subjective perception; Consensual and distinct construal

Definition

Alpha Press: the objective characteristics of a stimulus, one’s environment, or a situation

Beta Press: a person’s interpretation of a stimulus, one’s environment, or a situation

Introduction

For some the world is a hostile place where men are evil and dangerous; for others it is a stage for fun and frolic. It may appear as a place to do one’ s duty grimly; or a pasture for cultivating friendship and love. – Gordon Allport (1961, p. 266)

Individuals differ in the ways in which they perceive the world around them. Despite such individual differences, perceptions of the social world are nearly always constructed from physical reality. Henry Murray (1938) distinguished between objective reality and such subjective perceptions coining the terms alpha and beta press:

In identifying press we have found it convenient to distinguish between 1, the alpha press, which is the press that actually exists, as far as s ...

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