Perceptions and Judgement

This is just a note summarizing a lecture. I found this topic interesting and useful, so I dig more.

As we’ve known well, humans make decisions by how they perceive, which is influenced by the events, people, and things around them. Generally humans cannot see something as a whole thing – they just know some part of it.

We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

One kind of the perceptions is judging others, which most people usually do. There are shortcuts in judging others. Here are the points:

  • People selectively interpret what they see on the basis of their interests, background, experience, and attitudes.
    For example: A patient who takes empty capsules which he believes as drugs will really be healed.
  • People draws a general impression about someone on the basis of single characteristic.
    For example: A teacher is labelled as ‘unfair’ in giving scores by his students. Although the teacher is diligent and always come to teach on time, the students can no longer see that attributes because of the label.
  • People evaluate a person’s characteristics by comparing with other people recently encountered who rank higher or lower on the same characteristics.
    For example: Student A always come 5 to 10 minutes late in class. The teacher should consider him as lazy or unable to manage his time. But then here comes student B, who is 15 minutes late, and student C, who is 30 minutes late. The teacher soon change his perception: student A is the most diligent (among these 3).
  • People attributes one’s own characteristics to other people.
    Just the same as previous, but different point of view.
  • People judges someone on the basis of one’s perception of the group which that person belongs.
    This is called “SARA” in Indonesia, in extreme cases. For example: Students at university X often pick a fight with other universities. Someday, one of the students from university X come to university Y as a guest student. Students at university Y will most likely consider this X student the same as the others, who like to pick a fight.

Those shortcuts often happened while we’re judging others. It’s very human. But it doesn’t mean we don’t need to avoid it. If we want to have accurate perceptions, we NEED to avoid those shortcuts in any means necessary.
Here are some tips to perceive more accurately:

  • Analyze ourselves to understand our own motives, needs, beliefs, and biases.
  • Analyze others to understand their behaviors, deriving from their personal attributes including history, motives, needs, biases, beliefs, and values.
  • Construct situations where perceptions can be tested and confirmed or discarded reflectively.
  • Create a climate of openness between ourselves and others to be able to discuss the “undiscussable”.
  • Generate valid information, avoid premature attribution, and focus on the particular behavior in the situation.
  • Listen to our intuitions which are guides to our feelings, needs, and motives.
  • Seek feedback from others on our perceptions – how do they see the situation.
  • Take responsibility for our perceptions – we should put statements in the form of “I think …”, “I feel …”, or “I believe …”.
  • Give feedback to others about our own perceptions. Be sure that the feedback is intended to be and is phrased to be helpful, and is NOT intended to boost our own ego.
  • Broaden our perspective by reading about, listening to, and observing people, things, and events.
  • Accept the anxiety involved in dealing with uncertainty. We all have the same feelings about uncertainty, but we differ in how we handle our anxieties over uncertainty.
  • Do not make the task of evaluating perceptions into a win-lose situation. Any perceptions, right or wrong, are “reality” for the person who has them.

Phew, it’s not like me to give such theories. But this one is an exception, because I have found this useful in real life.
Sorry if it’s too long. Please leave comments if you want to.
Thanks. ^^

http://python.rice.edu/~arb/Courses/750_04chapter6.pdf
http://draliob.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/perception.ppt

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