Perceptual Errors

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  • Topic: Perception, Mind, Cognitive biases
  • Pages : 5 (1586 words )
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  • Published : March 28, 2011
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Perceptual Errors in your Organisation
and how will you correct them.

1) Prototypes:-
Usually according to the group or profession you belong to, you are assumed to have certain characteristics, whether you have them or not. In our organisation, we have a team manager who has an impression of being unapproachable and unfriendly, only because of his position. Due to this reason none of the employees approach him for help, even though it might hurt productivity. Since a few colleagues and myself have a habit of observing people’s behaviour, we knew all this fear is baseless. We didn’t hesitate in asking him for help and he was very pleasant and found solutions to our problems and made us very comfortable while he was at it. So, in my opinion to reduce this kind of a perceptual error, its advisable to remember principle on similarity. Wherein, its not necessary that people from similar background are similar in nature. We should always see a person as a separate individual.

2) Horn Effect:-
According to this effect/error, when a person is found to have an undesirable trait, he is automatically assumed that all his traits must be undesirable, which may or may not be true. To explain with an example, I have a colleague in my office who is precise and sticks to the point when having a conversation with a customer. Once one such matter was escalated considering that he sounded rude to the customer. And though he was cleared after been given some advice, because of that one event he is always considered to be deficient in other necessary traits, where he actually is pretty good. Inspite of his being very disciplined, it was assumed that he was late in his project, when the fact was the opposite! In such a case, I think the person has to make an effort to clear such a generality. Also the appraiser should take into consideration all the facts of the person’s behaviour and progress, rather than assuming that he will be wrong always.

3) Hallo Effect:-
This effect is similar to horn effect, the only difference being that here the person is assumed to have all positive traits because of one desired trait. We have just such an example in our team, where one of the executives had scored the best in the first quarter. This led to a general assumption that she is good at all necessary statistics, which was not the case. This employee has a habit of coming later from breaks, of not going by rules and generally escaping slights due to favouritism. This also affects the morale of the people who work hard but their effort is not recognised. But when she was given the responsibility of helping with the KRO’s of the few newer executives, she couldn’t handle it and this led to waste of time and overall poor performance.

This could have been avoided if there was unbiasedness and proper checking done related to the statistics of the person rather than assuming she would be good at everything.

4) Primacy Effect:-
This is an error in perception when a person tends to base somebody’s judgement depending on the first impression of that person.
For instance, in our organisation we have a new team leader join in to handle our team. Now since this guy was a little timid initially and because it was a new rols and place for him, most of the people in the office didn’t take him seriously. To add to it some of his mannerisms were a little girlish, which led to most of the office crowd calling him ‘gay’. Presently, after knowing him more, even if people are not pulling his leg about being gay, he still not given his due respect. Anything that goes beyond his control in terms of disciplinary issues, he is blamed for saying that he doesn’t have a proper hold on his team!

I think the best way to reduce such an error in an organisation would be to observe the person in question over a period of time, unbiasedly, and then form an opinion about him. Its not necessary that first impressions are always the last impressions....
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