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Perception: A Psychology Paper

There is no second chance for a first impression. Perception has never been random, since the beginning of time it has been human nature to judge others before really getting a chance to know them. People immediately cast others into stereotypes in every situation: they form a schema, or an organized set of thoughts about something containing properties and uses.

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These schemas effect the way people carry themselves around others. Schemas are usually formed with in eight seconds of getting the initial impression of a person. This by psychologists is know as the ?eight-second rule,? where people have been proven to form hypothesizes about others with in eight seconds of meeting or seeing an individual for the first time. Human nature has never been stated more accurately than in one little phrase, yet I have never fully understood the clich? until just recently. As I sat here in the computer lab last week I noticed how I judge those around me. Although she speaks nothing, I have already put together an assumption about ?the girl sitting to my left:? her personality, work habits and attitude through a semantic analogy, or forming a link between physical appearance and personality. Wearing gray pajama pants and a comfortable fleece sweatshirt while holding a dark cloth blanket, I have understood in my mind that she likes to be cozy and secure. She seems to be a girl with a very soft nice voice, even though I have never heard her talk. As ?the girl sitting to my left? uses earphones while at the computer, I put together that she probably is very considerate of others. These assumptions could, for all I know is false and inaccurate, but as a human being I realize my judgments on others. I came to this realization also while studying the guy behind me. Just as my other subject, ?the guy behind me? seems to be very ?uncool? to say the least. His oversized plaid jacket, tight laced large sneakers, and tight jeans combining with his out of control curly hair and spectacles allow myself to automatically place ?the guy behind me? in a stereotype of nerds. The way he crosses his legs also leads me to believe he is one of those that probably enjoy computers and Dungeons & Dragons, yet for all I know this guy could be the best basketball player at Catawba. By his appearance I have already made assumptions about his lifestyle, or formed something referred to as Functional Association. After realizing the extent of judgement I cast on others, I began to contemplate if others would place me in certain stereotypes if I didn?t appear as I do; so, I decided to form my own experiment. I decided to make myself salient, or stand out, to better see my impressions on people. I began a three-day experiment where I would wear my not-so attractive glasses, a hooded sweatshirt, and Velcro shoes from Wal-Mart to dress like one would call a ?bum.? Of my many experiences of the weekend, three stood out from all the rest: my attendance at the soccer game, my trip to the Bar Charlotte nightclub, and being introduced to new friends. No girl in their right mind would dance with a guy with big ugly glasses. For we all know they have already formed something called an illusory correlation, or a memory of a negative or distasteful person or instance. Here I began to look at not only girls, but also guy?s faces to see what sort of an effect my appearance had on the way they viewed me. Sure enough I was getting looks of disgust from some, while faces of amusement from others; here I began to realize the brutality of human nature. First impressions are everything in today?s world. When dressed like a nerd with a straight-billed, over-sized ball cap, a greasy hooded sweatshirt tucked in urkel-style pulled up pants, I cast an impression to many spectators at this past weekend?s soccer match. Many parents looked as though I was repulsive, some thought I was joking, while others thought that it was my real lifestyle. Before I knew it I felt eyes from all directions casting judgements upon me. I began to smile comprehending a little more about perception of others, but I learned even more when my friend Katie introduced me to new acquaintances. When meeting attractive girls, most guys tend to attempt to look their very best. With my normal testing outfit I gained my uneasy looks from Katie?s friends and soon they had formed opinions of me?one of which was their romantic disinterest in me. They began to better accept me, though as I conversed with them more, yet never anything more than acceptance. Later that night, I decided to put my contacts in for the first time in three days and I soon realized the effect of appearance. For the first time, the girls were attracted to me because of my appearance and to them I replied to their stares with ?I?m not as ugly as you first thought, huh?? With these experiences I began to see first hand how people judge others and place people into schemas. After these encounters, I thought back to when I first arrived here at Catawba College, and the many assumptions I made of people that, in fact, turned out to be false.

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