Have you ever walked down the street and saw someone dressed well, walking confidently and instantly assume – “he’s probably rich and successful.” That may be the case or conversely you may be wrong.
This is a shortcut used when judging others, and although it can be accurate, it doesn’t mean that it always is. We’ve all heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Let’s see what other shortcuts one should watch out for.
Often, we can’t assimilate everything we see. We tend to take in specific parts and not at randomly either. People see what they want to see. This is called selective perception. People will draw unwarranted conclusions from an ambiguous situation. The brain doesn’t want to work hard to analyze everything so it filters what it sees based on your interests, background, and attitude. The more complex a situation is, the more bias you are likely to be. If you had a bad first experience with a person, then when you see the person again, you will most likely relate them with the bad experience. This is the basis for all flaws.
The example made in the very beginning about the well-dressed man is an example of the halo effect. This is when we draw general impressions based on a single characteristic. You meet a nice girl, she smells great – she must be clean, tidy, and always dresses well. Again, that might not be true.
If you hold your hand under hot water and then place it under lukewarm water you’ll perceive the water to be cold. This is called the contrast effect and it happens with people too. If you ever have to perform on stage, remember to schedule your act before the puppy/baby act. Everyone loves puppies and babies and although your act might not be bad, it will be perceived less favorably because (let’s be real) nothing can top cute babies and puppies. Same can be the case with job interviews.
Stereotyping is probably the most well-known shortcut in judging since it is done all the time in modern society. This is when you base your perception of a person on the premises of which group they belong to. Stereotyping (like other shortcuts in judging) may work, but it is important to not forget to look at people as individuals.
If you have to take one thing from this article, please take this – look at people as individuals, and don’t instantly judge them based on their group.