Individuals have a tendency to use a number of shortcuts when they judge others. An understanding of these shortcuts can be helpful toward recognizing when they can result in significant distortions.
1. Selective Perception
Any characteristic that makes a person, object, or event stand out will increase the probability that it will be perceived. It is impossible for an individual to internalize and assimilate everything that is seen .Only certain stimuli can be taken in selectively. Selectivity works as a shortcut in judging other people by allowing us to “speed-read” others, but, not without the risk of drawing an inaccurate picture. The tendency to see what we want to see can make us draw unwarranted conclusions from an ambiguous situation.
2. Halo Effect
The halo effect (Murphy & Anhalt, 1992) occurs when we draw a general impression on the basis of a single characteristic. For example, while appraising the lecturer, students may give prominence to a single trait, such as, enthusiasm and allow their entire evaluation to be tainted by how they judge the instructor on that one trait which stood out prominently in their estimation of that person. Research suggests that it is likely to be most extreme when the traits to be perceived are ambiguous in behavioral terms, when the traits have moral overtones, and when the perceiver is judging traits with which he or she has had limited experience.
3. Contrast Effects
Individuals do not evaluate a person in isolation. Their reaction to one person is influenced by other persons they have encountered recently. For example, an interview situation in which one sees a pool of job applicants can distort perception. Distortions in any given candidate‟s evaluation can occur as a result of his or her place in the interview schedule.
This tendency to attribute one‟s own characteristics to other people – which is called projection – can distort perceptions made about others. When managers engage in projection, they compromise their ability to respond to individual differences. They tend to see people as more homogeneous than they really are.
Stereotyping–judging someone on the basis of our perception of the group to which he or she belongs. Generalization is not without advantages (Hilton & Hippel, 1996). It is a means of simplifying a complex world, and it permits us to maintain consistency. The problem, of course, is when we inaccurately stereotype. In organizations, we frequently hear comments that represent stereotypes based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, and even weight. From a perceptual standpoint, if people expect to see these stereotypes, that is what they will perceive, whether or not they are accurate.
6. First-impression error
Individuals place a good deal of importance on first impressions. First impressions are lasting impressions. We tend to remember what we perceive first about a person, and sometimes we are quite reluctant to change our initial impressions. First-impression error means the tendency to form lasting opinions about an individual based on initial perceptions. Primacy effects can be particularly dangerous in interviews, given that we form first impressions quickly and that these impressions may be the basis for long-term employment relationships.