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Common shortcuts in judging others

The shortcuts we use in judging others allow us to make perceptions rapidly and provide valid data for making predictions. However, they can lead us into trouble when they result in significant distortions.

Check some effects that should be considered before using shortcuts to judge. Robbins (2012) alerts:

Selective perception is:

the tendency to selectively interpret what one sees on the basis of one’s interests, background, experience, and attitudes. An experienced care giver will notice some aspects in a patient that other professionals would never think about. We cannot assimilate all that we observe, we take in bits and pieces. But we don’t choose randomly; rather, we select according to our interests, background, experience, and attitudes.


Halo effect is:

the tendency to draw a general impression about an individual on the basis of a single characteristic, such as intelligence, sociability, or appearance. If you’re a critic of a specific politician in your country, try listing 10 things you admire about him/her. If you’re an admirer, try listing 10 things you dislike about him/her. You may feel it is difficult to do this exercise.


Contrast effect is:

evaluation of a person’s characteristics that is affected by comparisons with other people recently encountered who rank higher or lower on the same characteristics.


Usually we do not get our perception from someone considering only his aspects in isolation. Our reaction is influenced by other people we have recently encountered. Suppose you start interviewing managers and you started with the first candidate. You liked him and marked him to enter your team because he has all the characteristics you need. As the second interview finished, you find that the new candidate is better than the first. If you have one open position, you will hire the second candidate.

Stereotyping occurs:

while judging someone on the basis of one’s perception of the group to which that person belongs.


We have to be aware that there is a possibility of a self fulfilling prophecy - that means:

a situation in which a person inaccurately perceives a second person, and the resulting expectations cause the second person to behave in ways consistent with the original perception.


Thus, considering these shortcuts for judging, it is highly recommended to be careful whilst making decisions.