Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions (sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste) in order to give meaning to their environment. In other words, this is how we make sense of the reality. It is crucial because people’s behavior is based on their perception of what reality is, not on reality itself. The world as it is perceived is the world that is behaviorally important.
What are the factors that influence perception?
When individuals observe behavior, they attempt to determine whether it is internally or externally caused. In other words, we try to assign or attribute an internal /external reason for a specific behavior demonstrated by a person. This is one of the most crucial applications of perceptual process and it’s based on three factors. Distinctiveness: The extent to which a person behaves in the same/different way in different situations. If in different situations, person behaves in same way, distinctiveness is low. Whereas, if in different situations, behavior is different, distinctiveness is high.
Consensus: The extent to which other people behave in the same way in a similar situation. If a person’s behavior is same as others in a particular situation, consensus is high. Whereas, if a person’s behavior is not same as others in that situation, consensus is low. Consistency: the extent to which the person behaves the same way at different times in similar situations. If the person behaves same way in different times (similar situation), consistency is high. If the person does not behave the same way in different times (similar situation), consistency is low. Based on these concepts, we attribute internal/external causes to individual behavior in the following way:
Errors and Biases in Attribution
Fundamental Attribution Error
The tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal factors when making judgments about the behavior of others.
The tendency for individuals to attribute their own successes to internal factors while putting the blame for failures on external factors
People selectively interpret what they see on the basis of their interests, background, experience, and attitudes.
Halo /Horn Effect
A tendency to allow one’s judgment of another person, (e.g in a job interview), to be unduly influenced by an unfavorable (horn) or favorable (halo) first impression based on appearances.
Evaluation of a person’s characteristics that are affected by comparisons with other people recently encountered who rank higher or lower on the same characteristics.
Attributing one’s own characteristics to other people
Judging someone on the basis of one’s perception of the group to which that person belongs. (e.g. social profiling)
Specific Applications in Organizations
The Link between Perceptions and Individual Decision Making
Problem: A perceived discrepancy between the current state of affairs and a desired state. Decisions: Choices made from among alternatives developed from data perceived as relevant.
Rational Decision – Making Model
– Describes how individuals should behave in order to maximize some outcome Model Assumptions
No time or cost constraints
Steps in the Rational Decision-Making Model
Define the problem.
Identify the decision criteria.
Allocate weights to the criteria.
Develop the alternatives.
Evaluate the alternatives.
Select the best alternative.
How Are Decisions Actually Made in Organizations
Individuals make decisions by constructing simplified models that extract the essential features from problems without capturing all their complexity.
How/Why problems are identified
Visibility over importance of problem
Attention-catching, high profile problems
Desire to “solve problems”
Self-interest (if problem concerns decision maker)
Satisficing: seeking the first alternative that solves problem. Engaging in incremental rather than unique problem solving through successive limited comparison of alternatives to the current alternative in effect.
Common Biases and Errors
Believing too much in our own decision competencies.
Fixating on early, first received information.
Using only the facts that support our decision.
Using information that is most readily at hand.
Assessing the likelihood of an occurrence by trying to match it with a preexisting category.
Escalation of Commitment
Increasing commitment to a previous decision in spite of negative information.
Trying to create meaning out of random events by falling prey to a false sense of control or superstitions. Hindsight Bias
Falsely believing to have accurately predicted the outcome of an event, after that outcome is actually known.
How can we reduce/minimize errors and biases?
Focus on goals.
Clear goals make decision making easier and help to eliminate options inconsistent with your interests. Look for information that disconfirms beliefs.
Overtly considering ways we could be wrong challenges our tendencies to think we’re smarter than we actually are. Don’t try to create meaning out of random events.
Don’t attempt to create meaning out of coincidence.
Increase your options.
The number and diversity of alternatives generated increases the chance of finding an outstanding one.
Ways to Improve Decision Making
1. Analyze the situation and adjust your decision making style to fit the situation.
2. Be aware of biases and try to limit their impact.
3. Combine rational analysis with intuition to increase decision-making effectiveness.
4. Don’t assume that your specific decision style is appropriate to every situation.
5. Enhance personal creativity by looking for novel solutions or seeing problems in new ways, and using analogies.
Intuitive Decision Making
An unconscious process created out of distilled experience.
Conditions Favoring Intuitive Decision Making
A high level of uncertainty exists
There is little precedent to draw on
Variables are less scientifically predictable
“Facts” are limited
Facts don’t clearly point the way
Analytical data are of little use
Several plausible alternative solutions exist
Time is limited and pressing for the right decision