In psychology, philosophy and science, perception is perceived to be the process through which awareness is attained together with gaining an understanding of the sensory facts. Through this process, individuals are able to organize and interpret their sensual impersonations in order for the environment to be given some meaning. Basically, there are various ways through which the individuals perceive things. This is dependent on the manner of perception and interpretation of objects (Flynn, 2005). Flynn (2005) adds that these techniques enhance the individuals to make perceptions that are accurate in a rapid manner in addition to providing us with providing valid data through which predictions can be made. On the other hand, this does not mean that the techniques are foolproof. There is a high likelihood of these perceptual processes resulting in errors that can at last result in substantial distortions. This article closely evaluates the common perceptual distortions, their causes and implications.
Perception distortion and errors
Basically, people use various ways when trying to make sense out of their environment. Mezias and Starbuck (2003) explain that this takes the course of selection, interpreting and organizing the facts. In addition, the perception is affected by the values and attitudes. For instance, it is possible for a person to develop an attitude that managers are insensitive and arrogant simply because for a long period of time, this person has repeatedly seen this behavior in other managers in other institutions. Therefore as this person adjusts to a new working environment, there is a very high probability of this attitude continually affecting his or her perception to the managers even if the manager in this new organization are working tirelessly to understand their employees and evaluate ways of making them comfortable. From a different perspective, it is possible for a leader that upholds career success and ambition to perceive the mistakes of the subordinate as an obstruction to his own success. On the other side if the leader upholds obedience and helpfulness, these attributes may be perceived as a stepping-stone from where he can assist in the growth and development of the subordinates (Mezias & Starbuck, 2003).
Based on the fact that the individuals usually have differences in values, attitudes, personality, experiences and interests, it may be possible for the same thing to be experienced in various ways. To gain an insight to this issue, consider a recent survey carried out on 2,000 United States workers. From this survey, it was established that nearly 90% of the managers working in new environments are sure that their approaches in employee management is the best. This perception was rejected by 68 percent of the workers (Flynn, 2005).
Flynn (2005) also notes that although perception cannot be observed as the only element of a person’s behavior, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the perceptual process to enhance managerial effectiveness. This is based on the fact that through inaccurate perceptions, the ability of managing individuals, organizations or groups may be hindered. Maule & Hodgkinson (2003) adds that distorted perceptions results from the generalization that individuals make after observing the physical looks and characteristics. This perception is basically made without a close interaction with the other people (Flynn, 2005). Explaining further, Flynn (2005) notes that the perception of these individuals is in some cases even influenced by the facial observations. In reference to a study by Hymowitz (2004) on the perceptual distortions in the modern working environment, it is apparent that the popularity of the aging skin medications and cosmetic surgery are increasingly becoming popular among the executives suspect that they are highly likely to be judged as less professional by other people just by the look of the face. In addition, it is possible for the perceptual errors to result from the bias that includes clothing, pattern of speech, attractiveness or even tactics of impression management (Megumi, Stone-Romero, & Coats, 2003).
In stereotyping, an individual is assigned to a broad category or group just by the physical look (Miller, Westerman & Loyd, 2004). Consider for instance; an individual meets a new teammate in a working environment, sees that this colleague is moving in a wheel chair and immediately categorizes this person as physically disabled. As a result, this person attributes this new team member to the generalization that is held when it comes to the disabilities. This may be inclusive of the certainty that this person has lesser ability in comparison to the fellow colleagues in the working place. However, the fact that the person is unable to walk around does not justify the categorization in the group of “lesser abled” in other areas. Infact, besides being offended by the limitation assumption held because of the disability, the beneficial abilities of this person to the working environment are minimized.
Examining the implications of negative stereotyping, Maule & Hodgkinson (2003) insists that the talented people are highly likely to be prevented from progressing in the work place. Worse still, these stereotyped people are less likely to apply their talent in making full contribution to the success of the organization.
Maule & Hodgkinson (2003) insists that stereotypes are very common in organizations. Maule & Hodgkinson (2003) add that for generalization, these stereotypes may be useful. However, these authors warn that these stereotypes may hardly have a shed of truth when applied to a specific circumstances or person. Therefore, it is important that the individuals constantly evaluate themselves to ascertain whether stereotyping is appropriately being applied when making decisions and in evaluations. In addition, it is important to understand that there is an important aspect in every individual (Flynn, 2005) and therefore making incorrect judgment may not be recommended. In another approach of correcting the stereotype error, Flynn (2005) recommends for increased interactions with the stereotyped people coupled with learning more from them. Through this approach, it becomes possible to clear any false perception held against them.
According to Flynn (2005), the halo effect is caused by developing the overall impression of a situation or person based on one characteristic. This sole characteristic may be either favorable or unfavorable. Basically, what this means is that through the halo effect, the perceiver is bound to other physiognomies that are essential when it comes to generation of an assessment that is more complete. Flynn (2005) explains that performance appraisal is a significant role that is played by the halo effect. For instance, consider a person that is prominently known for his outstanding record of job attendance. Such a person may be gauged as industrious, highly productive and responsible. On the other side, a person whose attendance is less than average has a high likelihood of being perceived as a poor performer. In this case, both assessments may be justified. However, the leader has the responsibility of ensuring that there is certainty in the assessment. This assessment has to be based on full information on the characteristics of the job as opposed to making a judgment based on good attendance.
Miller, Westerman & Loyd (2004) insist that correcting the halo errors may be difficult. This is based on the fact that there is a long lasting effect of these distortions on an individual. Miller, Westerman & Loyd (2004) however note that it is possible for these distortions to be avoided by discouraging the first impressions from having strong repercussions on the individual’s perception. A judicious check on an individual’s first impression can be made to establish the correctness or incorrectness of the judgments that were made about that person. In addition, the past experiences should be discouraged from affecting the current perception of an individual.
Perceptual defense is another dimension when looking at the causes of the perceptual distortions and errors. In this case, perceivers tend to shield themselves from the people that they believe are threatening. Therefore, the pleasant and satisfying things are perceived by the people and the unpleasant and disturbing things tend to be disregarded. In essence, blind spots are basically developed by the people when it comes to the perceptual process so that they are not hurt by the negative sensory info (Mello & Tabak, 2006). For instance, Tennessee learning institution director loathed handling conflicts. This is simply because as he was growing up, his parents had constant arguments and many times, he was put in the middle of their quarrels. Hence, the director could overlook the conflict prevailing among the members of the staff until these conflicts reached a critical point. In case of a blow up, there would be shock and dismay in the director. This is simply because to his perception, everything was running smoothly among these workers. This clearly implies that through recognition of the perceptual blind points, it can be possible for a clearer reality picture to be developed (Mello & Tabak, 2006).
Flynn (2005) notes that perceptual distortions and errors can be caused by projections. Flynn (2005) explains that through projections, other people are perceived to possess similar traits. For the achievement-oriented leader, this might result in an assumption that the subordinates are equally well just because he is well. As a result, there is a high likelihood of such a leader restructuring the jobs to make them more challenging without prior consideration of the actual satisfaction of the employees. Flynn (2005) emphasizes on empathy and self-awareness as the best guard against such errors resulting from projection.
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