is person perception and exactly what causes one person to think certain ways
about other people? Kendra Cherry, a physiology expert, (2014) states that “In
social psychology, the term perception refers to the different mental
processes that we use to form impressions of other people”. People are quick to
form a perception about someone without even talking to the person. Perceptions
are formed based on many different variables such as needs, wants, attitudes,
experiences, and beliefs. After the perception has been formed the person is
placed into a social category such as wealth, employment, and/or religion.
After the person has been categorized into a social group the reaction,
positive or negative, process will begin.
perceptions of others cause us to portray certain behaviors and in the long run
this will affect the way we make decisions. (Cherry, K.
2014). It is very important that people
keep a positive attitude when interacting with others so that the perceptions
of others are not misconstrued or clouded based on fast judgment, social
categorization, and human reactions. (Bargh, J. A., Chen, M.,
& Burrows, L. 1996). The purpose for writing this piece is to find out why
people are so quick to cast judgment upon others and also to attempt to change
this behavior in myself because I have noticed recently that I am quick to cast
judgment upon others based on their appearance or based on tattoos, piercing,
or hair color. It is not fair to judge people at all, but to judge one based on
their hair color? That is just absurd.
Many Different Variables
are quick to form a perception or an opinion about someone without even talking
to the person. Perceptions are formed based on many different variables such as
wealth, handicap, appearance, clothes, hair (style and/or color), cars, music,
color (race), etc. If a person is well dressed one will perceive that specific
person is wealthy or takes good care of themselves. Example: If Billy (an older
African American male) is seen at a store being very friendly with a known drug
dealer, people will perceive that Billy is purchasing drugs from this dealer.
This is the way our eyes perceive the situation, and then we are quick to cast
our judgment that Billy has a drug problem. “Perceptions are the basis of all
actions: decisions, judgments, attitudes, emotions, all the choices made by
individuals, organizations, and communities are based on the perceptions of the
people involved” (Shaus, R. 2001-2010). All of these variables are also based
on situation and experience, meaning that most likely two people in the same
situation will have totally different views of the situation.
Shaus (2001-2010), provides this great example “Two people can look at a drug
addict with one seeing a criminal and the other seeing a victim of
circumstance, a third person could claim to see a case of mental illness and
according to different frames of judgment, each or all three could be correct”.
This results from people growing up in different life styles and someone who had
previously been in a similar situation would be more understanding than someone
who had never experienced this before. Someone who had never done drugs is more
likely to look down upon people who use drugs or people who have used drugs in
their past. People who are raised wealthy have totally different views from
those who were raised very poor and these different people would also have
different morals and values they were raised to agree with, but it does not
take long for one to form an opinion of someone else based on looks, actions,
or any other variable that may be involved.
the perception has been formed about the person and they have been placed into
a social category, the reaction process starts. The reaction or labeling can
either be negative or positive. “Labeling is based on the self-identity and
behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to
describe or classify them and it is known to be associated with the concepts of
self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping” (Macionis, J., and
Gerber, L. 2010). An example of self-fulfilling prophecy is; a teacher who
thinks a child is slower than the rest of the students may start to cater to
that child more than usual or ask the child less difficult questions as
compared to the rest of the class. The teacher does this in hopes of the child
receiving better grades, but may result in the student getting better grades
than any other student in class.
Stereotyping is known as “a fixed, over
generalized belief about a particular group or class of people” (Cardwell, M.
1996). “One advantage of a stereotype is that it enables us to respond rapidly
to situations because we may have had a similar experience before and one
disadvantage is that it makes us ignore differences between individuals;
therefore we think things about people that might not be true (i.e. make
generalizations)” (Cardwell, M. 1996). Labeling has become so negative recently
that it has acquired a bad name; from doctors, teachers, parents, and the
public. Stereotype labeling is the worst type of labeling because it causes one
to assume things, mostly negative thing, about a certain gender, race, or
potentials set the limits within which our dispositions can vary. And vary they
do, even for people in the same culture, society, and family” (Hewitt, J.
1970). These perceptions of others cause
us to portray certain behaviors and in the long run this will affect the way we
make decisions and it will also affect the way our children make decisions. The
children are our future and the responsibility is in our hands to teach them
right from wrong and I have learned that having a negative attitude affects
one’s way of life and happiness, so be as positive as possible in all
situations. Staying as positive as possible has many benefits such as: “People
who practice positive thinking are more likely to have less stress, are more
optimistic believe in themselves and their abilities, believe that the bad things
that do happen to them are just small setbacks, and they can easily overcome
anything” (Universe Laws. 2014).
of the same culture have the same beliefs and values as one another. They see
eye-to-eye majority of the time and get along because of this. Some cultures
reflect negativity towards other cultures and children learn to mimic these
actions early in life. Some families discipline their children in a negative
manor and this causes the children to grow up confused and being a rebel
against anyone with authority. The way we grow up depends on the way we will
raise our own children, but people have been known to break the cycle by
putting forth effort to see the wrongdoings and correct them. Example: Long ago
members of the KKK would walk around performing violent hate crimes and this
behavior towards African Americans continued for generations. This can cause
people to cast judgment only based on skin color and a negative perception is
placed upon this group because of their beliefs and actions. Since this type of
hatred can be discontinued we should also discontinue our casting judgment so
sum it all up one’s perception of others or a situation can be altered by what
the eyes see instead of knowing the situation and evaluating it properly. One should never form a false perception of
another based on wealth,
handicap, appearance, clothes, hair (style and/or color), cars, music, color
(race), employment, and/or religion. These perceptions of others cause us to
portray certain behaviors and in the long run this will affect the way we make
decisions. (Cherry, K. 2014). It is very important that people keep a positive attitude
when interacting with others so that the perceptions of others are not
misconstrued or clouded based on fast judgment, social categorization, and
has become overwhelming and should only reflect positive labeling instead of
negative labeling such as gay, Negro, etc. Stereotype labeling is the worst
type of labeling because it causes one to assume things, mostly negative thing,
about a certain gender, race, or religion. We all should refrain from doing
this because it causes negative reactions all around.
should try to stay positive about all situations all the time. Universe Laws
(2014) states that “People who are happier have their thoughts aligned to
what they want, helping manifest desires, improve outcomes, events, and overall
happiness in life”. “Start changing how your mind thinks and don’t
forget that your thoughts control your emotions which can help control the
events in your life, good or bad” (Universe Laws. 2014). Staying positive
always has the best results, especially when interacting with others around you
on a daily basis.
Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows,
L. (1996). Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of
trait construct and stereotype
activation on action. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 71, 230-244.
Cherry, K. (2014). Perception and the
Perceptual Process. Retrieved from
Cherry, K. (2014). Person Perception.
Hewitt, John P. Social Stratification
and Deviant Behavior, New York: Random House, 1970.
Macionis, J., and Gerber, L. (2010).
Labeling theory: Social constructionism, Social stigma,
Deinstitutionalization, and Labeling.
Sociology, 7th edition
Mencken, H. “Research in Organizational
Behavior” New York Times, September 8, 2001, p.
A1 (Appendix A).
S. Milgram, Obedience to Authority (New
York: Harper & Row, 1974). “Understanding
Behavior in the Milgram Obedience
Experiment: The Role of Personality, Situations, and
Their Interactions” Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, March 1991, pp. 398–
Shaus, R. (2001-2010). Perceptions. Retrieved from
The Meaning of Perception. (n.d.)
Visuals. Retrieved from
Universe Laws. (2014). The Benefits of
Staying Positive. Retrieved from