Perceptions are an important part of organizational behavior. Almost without exception an integral part of organizations are their ability to recognize individual differences and promote an objective and unbiased environment. The organizational environment is characterized by interviews, performance development reviews, staff ratings and important decisions based on the interpretation of issues and behaviors. All of these activities, generally undertaken by management, have an inherent perceptive component involved. Robbins, Millet, Cacioppe and Marsh (2001) 5 define perception as the way individuals process their respective sensory impressions in order to define their environment.
In an organizational sense, Robbins and colleagues (2001) identified selective perception, stereotyping, contrast effect, projection and the halo effect, as five frequently used shortcuts, used by managers, to judge others. Because perceiving and interpreting others is a rather tiresome task, shortcuts are employed by individuals to assist with the process. Whilst these shortcut techniques can be valuable in the sense that they allow perceptions to be made quickly and usually efficiently, the process is not without its problems.
Two of the shortcuts, projection and the halo effect, will be examined to see the possible implications they have, when used by managers.
Projection occurs when a person unknowingly attributes his own instinctual impulses or threats of his own conscience, to other people or to the external world. It is purported that it is then easier to deal with an anxiety that arises from these internal impulses and threats. All of us have undesirable traits or qualities that we do not acknowledge, even to ourselves, and projection helps us deal with this. Projection originated from the writings of the famous psychological theorist, Sigmund Freud. Freud postulated that projection was one of the important defense mechanisms within human beings used to cope with anxieties. He maintained that all defense...