Behavioural studies

Fred Luthans defines the perceptual process as “a complicated interaction of selection” (Organisational Behaviour 1995). Our perception effects our every day life whether it be which restaurant we would prefer to go to for a meal or what group of people we decide to socialise with in a club. Perceptual errors are happening continuously in our everyday life. Such as stereotyping,halo effect and attribution. However if the correct measures were taken then these perceptual errors could be cut down .

Stereotyping is the process of assigning attributes to people on the basis of our perceptions about the group to which they belong. These groups contain people which include managers, supervisers, union members, woman and white and blue collared workers. Stereotyping contains two fundamental errors. People whilst stereotyping ignore variations and mistake characteristics. Such as it is a common stereotype to say that the Scottish are mean and stingy and people often say the Irish are drunks. Although this is probably not the case for all the Scottish and the Irish.

These situations occur because when we first meet somebody we take the first impressions of this type of people and chunk all the information. This is called a schema. The problems that are related to stereotyping are that jobs are given to the wrong people. For example if the person doing the interviewing for a job decides that people who are Irish are all drunks. This would subsequently mean that anyone who is not Irish would have an advantage from the start. Even if the Irish person had been more academically suited for the job.

Stereotyping has been an ongoing problem in the work place for a long time. Many organisations try and prevent the problem. Nowadays it is quite common for companies to have self-awareness tests. It was discovered if you make people aware of their perceptual errors then you have more chance of putting a stop to them. The Halo effect is when we evaluate all aspects of someone and only form one impression of them. Halo effects are done on the basis of one trait such as Intelligence, appearance, and dependability of cooperativeness.

Whether it is favourable or unfavourable we will always stick to this first impression. For example if we have a favourable impression of someone and they make a mistake we will just put that down to them having a bad day. However the other side of the coin is that a manager of a company decides that from his first impressions he didn’t like an employee he would always see them in a negative way. Anything the employee does would be seen as the wrong thing to do. Every time the employee does something good for the company the manager would just say it was a fluke.

A main problem caused by the halo effect is that organisations often make inaccurate appraisals. ” A recent comprehensive review of the performance appraisal literature found that he halo effect was the dependent variable and was found to be a major problem affecting appraisal accuracy. ” (Organisational Behaviour page 162). One classic research study noted three conditions under which the halo effect is most marked. 1: When the traits are unclear in behaviour expressions 2: When the traits are not frequently encountered by the perceiver.

3: When the traits have moral implications. The halo effect can have a direct effect on perception. This has been revealed in many scientific tests where people are given a description of two people with identical personalities. They only have one difference and that is that one has the character trait of being cold and the other has the character trait of being warm. The result of this experiment was that two completely different perceptions were given. The attribution process is where we observe behaviour and infer meaning. This always depends on the individual’s personality.

The attribution effect is divided into two categories these are internal causes and external causes. The internal cause is when the behaviour attributed which is caused by the individuals character traits lets you believe the person is going to act like this in the future and it will effect our future dealings with the person. For example if a manager had to send a employee to be a representative at a meeting and they knew one of their employees was not very punctual . They would expect this person to be unreliable and not turn up on time. Therefore this person would not be selected.

The external causes is different this is when we believe the person will not necessarily act like this in the future and it is not likely to effect our dealings with the person in the future. We can also see the effects of the attribution process when we look at a persons success. The attribution process is defined by Fritz Heider “Is the process by which we make sense of our environment through our perceptions of causality. An attribution therefore is a belief about the cause or causes of an event or an action”(Organisational Behaviour page 226). Individuals will almost certainly give themselves a bias account of any success that they have.

For example when we do well in our exams in school or at university. We will put it down to internal attributes such as we are intelligent and worked hard towards the grades which we achieved. However if we are not successful we are more likely to blame it on external causes ie it was the fault of someone else. In the situation where someone else fails we will most probably say it was due to internal causes such as they were not intelligent enough. Fundamental attribution is where we are guilty of underestimating the impact of internal causes when monitoring the behaviour of others.

Studies have proven that sex and appearance affect the way we are perceived paid and promoted. A study showed that the hourly wage of overweight woman aged 23-31 was 20% lower than that of woman of average weight. A good example of where attribution is a perceptual error is that in “June 1996 Sharon Wilson 20 sales assistant at Jacket Racket and Destinys Clothing company Clydebank was dismissed for being to fat and ugly when pregnant, wins unfair dismissal claim of i?? 1049 against employer”( Huczynski and Buchanan Page 226) Perceptual errors are probably something that we will never get rid of in society.

Perceptual errors are an ongoing occurnce in our ever day lives. The wrong perception is often the reason that some unfortunate individuals don’t get the job that they applied for. In some extreme cases perceptual errors can lead to wrongful arrests. However many organisations are now taking steps that they feel necessary to cut down on these errors by making their employees take tests to help them with self awareness.


Huczynski and Buchanan 2001 Organisational Behaviour Fred Luthans 2002 Organisational Behaviour

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