From the category archives:

Psychology

Your Perception

September 17, 2008

Everyday, we see people’s behavior and can judge a person. Sometimes, you see somebody in the act, of which you don’t approve. You may see someone drinking. Or flirting with someone. Or cutting someone off the road. In virtually every aspect you can think of. The thing is, when we see an act, we just see that action in the moment, and in many times, we don’t understand the context. We try to understand, ‘why did someone act that way’? We can even ask ourselves, ‘why did I do that’? We tend to look for reasons to explain a person’s behavior. In the process of trying to understand the people around us, and oftentimes, very quickly, we develop a perception of that person. And this gets in the way of the relationships we have, or can have, with others.

There are two ways in which we can explain a person’s behavior. In psychological terms, the two terms are called personal attributions and situational attributions. With personal attribution, you believe that a behavior is caused by an internal factor, in essence, their characteristics. The other type, called situational attribution, explains that a human behavior is a result of an external factor, such as the setting, event, or other people in the environment. Here’s an example. Your classmate came to class very late to the final exam and was unable to take the test. With personal attribution, you can simply think that she had overslept and perceive that classmate to be very careless in their character. In other words, you connect that event to their personality. On the other hand, with situational attribution, you may think that something circumstantial happened, whether she was in a car accident or someone had died in her family, Basically, it was a result of something that happened that is not directly related to their character.

Ultimately, when looking from the outside, you have no idea what the real story is. When something happens to you that isn’t positive, you blame it on the situation or your environment, but when it happens to someone else, it’s easy to attribute the situation to their character. Leave the judging to God because that’s not our job and we don’t do the best job interpreting, anyway. Don’t be quick to judge based on your perceptions. Rather, just focus on building relationships and don’t let those perceptions hinder us from doing that. God entrusted us with relationships, and we can be good stewards of those relationships by treating people the way we want to be treated.

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