Are You Guilty of Projection? And Other Barriers to Social Perception

Who knew I would take such a liking to organizational behavior. A lot of my experiences lately are reminding me of things I learned in that class. One thing I have found myself guilty of is projection, or the false-consensus effect. This is a barrier to social perception where we assume that our own beliefs and values are commonly held and overestimate the number of people who share them.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I still feel fairly young in that I have too few stories to tell. Most of my life so far has been centered around school and some sports on the side. I am working on experiencing more and traveling. My next trip is looking like New York City!

What made me think of this in the first place was another one of my coworkers. I thought she looked about my same age, so for some reason, I was shocked when I heard she already had three kids. I have to start realizing that my peers have all gone down their own individual paths, some not even close to mine.

There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values and habits are ‘normal’ and that others also think the same way that they do. I think I also have done this when working on group projects. Everyone has their predefined line for what is over achieving and what is slacking, and of course I think I am “normal.” I put forth just the right amount of effort. I suppose it’s just as likely for the person I perceive as an over achiever, perceives me as a slacker.

A few other barriers to social perception are:

Selective Perception the tendency to prefer information that supports our viewpoint

Stereotyping a generalization about a group of people

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies sometimes our expectations affect the way we interact with others such that we provoke the very response we expect

First Impression Error when we infer from a very brief observation of someone’s behavior that it reflects what that person is really like

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