1. What is perception?
Perception, contrary to popular opinion, is not just the way people see things. It has more to do with how we feel about those things. It’s a composite behavioral pattern that reflects our moods, our thoughts, our opinions, all-in-one.
The clear description of Prince Myshkin as portrayed by Fyodor Dostoevsky in his classic “The Idiot” is, for me, the best example of how perceptions can go a long, long way in determining a person’s primary reaction to any given situation.
Another way to look at this strange concept is by visualizing the different manners in which people react to the same bit of news that flashes for a second on the television screen. For supporters of a particular celebrity/politician, any news regarding them would inspire curiosity. On the other hand, somebody who is least bothered about that particular person, would perceive the situation differently and turn up with a comparatively calm expression.
2. What causes people to have different perceptions of the same situation?
To name one reason for differences in opinion would be a haphazard ramification of the general, unified theory. There are thousands of reasons, and probably zillions of neurons that determine the exact reactions of a person. However, there are certain factors that affect the way people tend to think. Again, ‘tend’ is a very misleading word. Still, the factors that do make a difference are on the lines of Upbringings, Pre-conceived notions, unwarranted biases, and much more.
People who’ve had a conservative upbringing and have never rebelled against it, would have a naturally visible outlook that condemns everything that tends to appear modern. On the other hand, the free birds of today’s world would be more casual in their approach towards anything that appears sensitive.
Pre-conceived notions, which are generally off-shoots of the upbringing factor, also create discrepancies whenever an unbiased opinion is desirable. The human gift of perception instantly turns into a curse when people use meek forms of judgements to decide their course of action.
Ideas have endurance beyond death, said John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But perceptions, if manipulated with malicious intent, can indeed kill an idea.
3. Does perception really affect outcomes?
To an extent, yes. The first thought that comes into our minds whenever we receive a certain piece of information, is often the sole factor that will decide how we act on it.
A person with a grudge is more likely to be violent than a person without it. A person who loves music is likely to be more romantic than somebody who’s in love with, say, cars.
A person who is afraid of the dark is less likely to take a risk. A person with a soft heart is less likely to kill someone.
The above sentences are not facts. They’re not stated to be true in any encyclopedia in the world, not even the oh-so-trusted wikipedia that reportedly “tells all”. No, these are just perceptions of a beautiful mind that has it’s own will. This ‘will’ that so many intellectuals love talking about, is nothing but an offspring of the minute perceptions that we imbibe in our heads the moment we choose to react.
So, to sum up, does perception really affect outcomes? To an extent, yes.
4. What is personality, and how does it affect behaviour?
The guy in the shadow is tall, dark, and presumably good looking as well. The guy speaks well. The guy has a baritone and sings to the tune of melodies that charm every heart. The guy knows his way with words.
I just went out of my way to describe something that anybody with a rational mind would perceive as a personality trait.
Personality, Persona, Character, these words are dangerously close in definition, yet miles ahead when the day’s task is to describe a person without any physical attribute.
What if I want to know a person in and out without actually ever seeing him/her? Without actually touching their skin, not knowing how their voice sounds like? What is that one thing, that sets this particular person apart from everyone else in sight?
Now that’s personality. Seldom are times evident when we miss out on judging people by the way they talk, or sound, or even handle the tiniest objects. Rarely do we come across people who act in a manner that deceives our expectations. And when we do find such people, we make a tiny, small note in our head, we tell ourselves that it’s important to know this person, to talk to this person, to understand this person. Personalities, are deceptive, if manipulated well. Not even subtle differences in appearances can disguise a person as well as the word in study here.
Personality and Behaviour
Behavioral patterns are visible in every human that we encounter. More so, when we’re trying to know these people. We notice how a person moves, how he/she responds to a query.
Let’s take a look at the most complex species on earth. The most horrid, yet beautifully structured personality.
The Liar is a person who chooses to hide facts and decides to replace those facts with statements that he creates in his own head, and propagates that fact as the truth instead. Surprisingly, I note here, that the liar has a very creative personality indeed.
His stories enlighten people, maybe they even inspire other liars and possibly, investigators to behave in the way you expect them to.
There are, of course, other traits that describe and define us “humans” and yes, they do affect the way people behave.
To be a visionary is at once a feeling of pure bliss and abject terror. A personality that resembles one of a visionary is responsible for affecting lives, and nothing but behaviour would objectify that cause. To be a killer requires a very disturbed personality, and it’s very important for a potential murderer to have a ruthless, violent personality. That’s how the killer behaves erratically. That’s how he kills. A good lawyer must possess the personality of someone who’s good with arguments, and the art of repartee. Repertoire.
Thus, I safely conclude here, that personality does affect behaviour. But that’s just me. Others may choose to differ. Critics, however, have the right to remain silent.