So what if i think that fat people are lazy?…

Everything we do, and how we behave is governed by our experiences, stereotypes and biases. Its a fact of life. In the workplace this is also the case, thoughts we have about blondes, or tall people are people with red hair, are all governed by our preconceptions.

Perception is a way that humans can make mental short cuts and put people into boxes. However, percpetions, stereotypes and biases affect a lot, especially the way we behave and react to people in the workplace. So if we have a preconception that all fat people are lazy, or all blonde people are students, we would have to adapt these feelings to ensuure that we don’t wrongly judge people or behave badly to them in the workplace. An article in The Voice Newspaper looks at the prejuidice faced by people with dread locks conjures up images of drug use. This obviously is not the reality, not every person with dreadlocks is like this, however some times dreadlocked people are treated with more suspision.

Famous psychological experiements have looked at how perception affects group behaviour and decision making accuracy. Solomon Asch in 1958 designed a condition where a group of people had to solve a simple task of deciding which line was the same length as a sample line.

The groups of 8-10 people had to individually say the correct answer, that exhibit 1 is the same length as line A. Out of the 8-10 people, only one was being tested, everyone else in the team were actors. Asch wanted to test the power of group conformity, so all the people but the person being tested said the wrong answer, and the person being tested was monitered to observe how many times that person said the wrong answer (conformed) or said the correct answer.

Asch repeated the procedure with 18 sets of bars and the actors were instructed to offer wrong answers 12 out of 18 times. The findings were surprising to the experiementer, 74% of people conformed to the majority at least once.

Asch commented on this and stated that “The tendency to conformity in our society is so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black. This is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct.”

The implications of this in the work place and society are great. Human beings are extremely sociable and essentially want to be liked. This explains how some bad policies can be made by policical parties, organisations or social groups. It shows the extent of how we may not always follow our thoughts and feelings about particular things, just to keep the peace.