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    The Role of Perception in Management

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    Synopsis Perception: Some recent research and implications for administration by Sheldon S. Zalkind and Timothy W. Costello Any person usually bases his decisions on his perception towards others. This happens more critical when the person in question is an administrator or manager as his decisions and actions are critical not only to himself but also to his organization. Nowadays the management studies are becoming more and more influenced by the behavioral sciences. This also includes the study of perception as one of its most important parts.

    The factors influencing ones perception were first identified by Johnson in 1944 where he researched “object perception”. He listed many suggestions like subconscious influence by not so obvious considerations, responding to irrelevant hints, guidance by emotions, giving more weightage to his/her favorites’ opinions etc. Infact one may not be aware of the factors on which one is making the perceptual judgments. Again in 1958, Burner described the role of needs, values, culture, interests etc on the process of perceptions.

    A different idea was proposed by Cantril were he described perception as a transaction between the person making the perception and the one being perceived where in finally the resulting perception depends both on the influences within the perceiver and the characteristics of the perceived. One of the important factors influencing the perception process is the mindset as demonstrated by Kelley. He showed that one forms a perception about someone and behaves accordingly as per his prior expectations.

    As it is said first impressions are the last impressions, which to a great extent is true as so far as their being lasting is concerned, but weather they are accurate or not is usually a matter of question. Here also the needs, values, expectations of the person making the judgment (usually the administrator) play an important factor in the impressions he or she forms about some body. Most of the times they are not accurate and are even to a great extent based on the situation or surrounding in which they are made. Also experts agree that the impressions are also influenced by some very personal reactions of the perceiver.

    Some of the factors influencing or rather distorting the impressions are listed and explained as under. Stereotyping : This refers to the beliefs made by people about other people based on the groups to which they belong. It is used to form judgments about others (mostly inaccurate) on the basis of the ethnic group they belong to or even other types of groups like rich, poor, union, bankers, aristocrats etc. Each group is associated with some unverified qualities which are also attributed to their members and used to make perceptions about them.

    Any stereotype being very widespread does not becomes accurate but rather means that many people are making the same mistake. Another research by Luft shows that stereotypes also influence the notion of personality adjustment, associating adjustment with riches and maladjustment with the poor. Halo Effect : Halo effect is the another perceptional process where in one characteristics of someone is used to form impression about his other characteristics. The “halo” of one trait screens the other traits for which a person is being judged.

    This has been shown to have an important role in processes like performance appraisals. As explained by Bruner and Taguiri, halo effect has an even stronger impact when one tries to form impression on traits not given out by ones behavior, or has moral consequences or when one has little exposure to such traits. Symonds even suggested that the halo effect is more pronounced, the more we are familiar with the person in question. Projection : This is the process by which someone tries to reduce his guilt of wrongdoing or failure by trying to put the blame on someone else.

    It also refers to the fact that the present mental state of the perceiver influences his perception of the others. As per Sears it is seeing our own negative personality traits in others. Perceptual Defense : Demonstrated by Haire and Grunes, perceptual defense refers to the fabricating material which will make one avoid removing his stereotypes already held or changing the beliefs held by him or her in perceiving others. It offers and explanation to the perceptual distortions made by people when they are faced with facts inconsistent with their stereotypes.

    Characteristics of the perceiver The characteristics of the perceiver which enable him to make perceptions are 1. Knowing oneself makes it easier to see other accurately : When a person is aware of his own traits or has insights, he will be making lesser errors while perceiving others. 2. One’s own characteristics affect the characteristics he is likely to see in others : The characteristics which are important to one person will also be looked for when he or she makes an opinion about someone. One uses certain fixed factors while judging others and also the weightage one gives to these factors. 3.

    The person who accepts himself is more likely to be able to see favorable aspects of other people : If the perceiver is aware of himself and accepts himself as he is, he is supposed to make less negative perception of others as he extends his criteria for judging others. The areas where he or she feels insecure, he or she finds deficiencies in others too. 4. Accuracy in perceiving others is not a single skill : A persons ability in judging or making perceptions about others with a fair amount of accuracy will depend upon the fact that whether he appreciates differences between individuals and also the norms used for judging them.

    The characteristics of the perceived which affect the perceptions about him/her 1. Status : With all the things identical the social or organizational status of a person makes him or her being perceived differently from the others. As an example high status people are seen as wanting to cooperate while the lower status people are viewed as having to cooperate though they are doing the same thing. 2. Category : Same action by two persons from two different departments will be percieved differently.

    This is similar to stereotyping. 3. Visibility of traits : The more a person demonstrates his characteristics, the more he is liable to be judged correctly. This provides the reason why traits like honesty, loyalty etc are hard to judge because they are not always very much visible. Situational influences on perception How we perceive others also depends upon the situation in which they are being perceived. If someone meets other in a very friendly environment they will find many similar characteristics in each other.

    This can also be applied in and administrative environment wherein a cooperative interactive situation be created instead of a competitive one so that the chances of finding others as similar to one another can be increased. This forms the basis of formation of committees and work groups in any organization. Though an alternate study also shows that we are more influenced by the strangers about whose strengths and weaknesses we don’t know than the people whom we very well know.

    A manager’s perception will also be limited by the aspects of situation which directly relate to the position or section he works in. Though it seems in the first sight that being able to form accurate perceptions about others helps in making smooth and effective interpersonal adjustments but studies reveal inconsistencies. Steiner explained these inconsistencies by saying that the perceptual accuracies will affect interaction when interacting persons are cooperative, behavior being perceived is relevant to the situation and when the members can easily alter their behavior based on the perceptions.

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    The Role of Perception in Management. (2018, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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