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Perceptual: Errors, Types, and Management

Perceptual: Errors, Types, and Management

by Team Businesspedia

A perceptual error is the inability to judge humans, things or situations fairly and accurately. Examples could include such things as bias, prejudice, stereotyping, which have always caused human beings to error in different aspects of their lives

Sources of errors in perception

The main sources of errors in perception include the following:

  • Not collecting enough information about other people. 
  • Basing our judgements on information that is irrelevant or insignificant. 
  • Seeing what we expect to see and what we want to see and not investigating further.
  • Allowing early information about someone to affect our judgement despite later and contradictory information. 
  • Accepting stereotypes uncritically. 
  • Allowing our own characteristics to affect what we see in others and how we judge them. 
  • Attempting to decode non-verbal behavior outside the context in which it appears. Basing attributions on flimsy and potentially irrelevant evidence. 

The process of making evaluations, judgements or ratings of the performance of employees is subject to a number of systematic perception errors. This is particularly problematic in a performance appraisal context. These are: 

  • Central tendency: Appraising everyone at the middle of the rating scale. 
  • Perception Contrast error: Basing an appraisal on comparison with other employees rather than on established performance criteria. 
  • Different from me: Giving a poor appraisal because the person has qualities or characteristics not possessed by the appraiser. 
  • Halo effect: Appraising an employee undeservedly on one quality (performance, for example) because s/he is perceived highly by the appraiser on another quality (attractiveness). 
  • Horn effect: The opposite of the halo effect. Giving someone a poor appraisal on one quality (attractiveness) influences poor rating on other qualities. (performance). 
  • Initial impression: Basing an appraisal on first impressions rather than on how the person has behaved throughout the period to which appraisal relates.
  • Latest behavior: Basing an appraisal on the person’s recent behavior.
  • Lenient or generous rating: Perhaps the most common error, being consistently generous in appraisal mostly to avoid conflict.
  • Performance dimension error: Giving someone a similar appraisal on two distinct but similar qualities, because they happen to follow each other on the appraisal form.
  • Same as me: Giving a good appraisal because the person has qualities or characteristics possessed by the appraiser. 
  • Spill over effect: Basing this appraisal, good or bad, on the results of the previous appraisal rather than on how the person has behaved during the appraisal period.
  • Status effect: Giving those in higher level positions consistently better appraisals than those in lower level jobs.
  • Strict rating: Being consistently harsh in appraising performance.

Types of perceptual errors in workplace

There are many types of perceptual errors in workplace

1.Selective Perception-People generally interpret according to their basis of interests,idea and backgrounds.It is the tendency not to notice and forget the stimuli that cause emotional discomfort.For example we might think that fresher graduates with above 80 % marks will exceptionally do well in technical interviews of respective subjects

2.Halo Effect-We misjudge people by concentrating on one single behavior or trait.It has deep impact and give inaccurate result most of the time.For example we always have an impression of a lazy person can never be punctual in any occasion.

3.Stereotypes-We always have a tendency to classify people to a general groups /categories in order to simplify the matter.For example-Women are always good homemakers and can do well in work life balance

4.Contrast Effect-We again sometimes judge people in comparison to others . This example generally found in sports,academics and performance review

5.Projection-This is very common among Perceptual errors.Projection of one’s own attitude,personality or behavior into some other person.For example- To all honest people,everybody is honest.

6.Impression-We all know the term “first impression is the last impression” and we apply that too .For example-During the time of hiring, thought like this “The most decent and modest person in the interview can do very well in every roles and responsibilities ” always arise.

Errors in perception can be overcome by

  • Taking more time and avoiding instant or `snap’ judgements about others. 
  • Collecting and consciously using more information about other people. 
  • Developing self-awareness and an understanding of how our personal biases are preferences affect our perceptions and judgements of other people. 
  • Checking our attributions – particularly the links we make between aspects of personality and appearance on the one hand and behaviour on the other.

Therefore, it can be said that if we are to improve our understanding of others, we must first have a well-developed knowledge of ourselves — our strengths, our preferences, our weaknesses and our biases. The development of self-knowledge can be an uncomfortable process.

In organizational settings, we are often constrained in the expression of our feelings (positive and negative) about other people due to social or cultural norms and to the communication barriers erected by status and power differentials. This may in part explain the enduring emphasis in recent years on training courses in social and interpersonal skills, self-awareness and personal growth.

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