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Psychology | Perceptions


Looking at this photograph you might think I live in the  English countryside rather than a metropolitan area. I am projecting a perception, we do this all the time with words, pictures and appearance. I was helping business students yesterday and later I thought the important words they need to learn are perceptions and perceive. In business it is important to understand how people perceive things and that we all perceive things a little differently from one another.

The way we perceive different companies and products is very important. Companies tend to have a large budget for marketing, advertising and publicity and devote a lot of resources to make our perceptions of their products be desirable. That was how Apple  marketed the IPhone, I pad and other products and is typical of how a company encourages people to think their products have status and are desirable. The same applies to a lot of designer clothing; it doesn’t matter that the clothing is made in a Asian sweat factory. The important thing is the name and the label. You can of course perceive the designer label quite differently to what the company intended and avoid designer labels if you think they are too expensive. We all get caught up in the hype though. Which do you prefer Coke or Pepsi? If you choose then you have  a preference; if you reject both then perhaps you are resisting their attempt to brain wash you!

Smile with tongue out

Perceiving something as a luxury item can be expensive. Cars are perceived as symbols of success; status symbols. People often feel they must have  a late model car or their image will be damaged. They feel the  model is important and ‘need’ their Jaguar or Rolls Royce. My car’s a little old and definitely not a status symbol, but it gets me where I’m going. Even I’m aware of the way others perceive me though, so when I was thinking about going to a presentation; I first thought about my appearance and what I would wear. It’s not like popping out to the supermarket, but even for that I try to be reasonable presentable.

Smile with tongue out

Can we as individuals influence the perceptions of others? We can! I hope to influence the perceptions of the other people at that presentation by dressing well. I won’t go as far as designer labels but take more care than usual. We can also influence people with words and pictures, without even meeting them. Just as I will put a little more thought into the way I  dress for an occasion; I can also put some thought into how an email might be perceived. How will my profile on LinkedIn or Facebook  be perceived? If I put  a little more thought into them, I can influence perceptions. Successful companies constantly innovate and produce new products or services and then they publicise the result. We have to be constantly changing and evolving or people will perceive us as boring. If we resist change that can make us look staid and boring. If we enjoy ourselves too much and are never serious, people’s perceptions of us might be that we are irresponsible. We have to strike a balance in our behaviour in order to give a good impression. We all have an image, the way be believe others perceive us. It can be quite depressing if others don’t perceive us as we would like. If people occasionally seem to perceive you in a negative way, you can ignore it. If their perceptions are quite general and most people perceive you negatively then it’s time to change. You might need to lighten up or maybe take life a little more seriously? The key to changing your image is behaviour and possessions have little effect. The way you dress does make a difference, far more than driving a very expensive car that can’t always be seen.  Other possessions and your home make little difference. People often try to give a good impression by having an immaculately clean and tidy home; but it is often a sign of obsessive behaviour.

Whatever you are trying to do in life, being aware of the impression that you give can be useful. A little thought and you might be able to make a better impression?

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7 responses

  1. Dave Hinchcliffe

    Another excellent post Mike, quite thought provoking. In a previous life I used to wear designer suits and various neck chokers (must wear different everyday). It didn’t change the monthly P&L what I wore!
    Now I don’t give a monkeys about peoples perception of me. I have full confidence in myself. The saying ” know thy self” is certainly true!
    Of course advertising is now lost on me. I neither buy a paper, I don’t own a TV, or drive a car. I do read, surf and listen to the radio.
    There is no difference between Coke or Pepsi to me. All I know that when I collect 60 cans I have earned circa 50p.

    Best Wishes

    9, November 2011 at 1:15 pm

    • Hi Dave,

      I have given up on newspapers. I am considering buying some new clothes because I am in the finals of a photography contest and don’t want to look my usual scruffy self at the presentation! I do have a car, it’s 14 years and booked in for a service and MOT; I’m confident it’ll pass. I did buy 3 cans of Pepsi in Lidl for 99p, cheaper than the pub that ripped me off for over £3.00 for 2. I only really went in for the loo!

      I like to watch TV in bed, but you aren’t missing much! I’m tempted to join Lovefilm.

      Keep up the good work, you’ll be rich one day and still frugal! 😛

      9, November 2011 at 2:03 pm

  2. Dave Hinchcliffe

    I’ve just joined Lovefilm on a 30 day free trial. Amazon own this now and are offering a £20 gift voucher which I have claimed and spent on craft books. I make my own gifts of course. The girls in my life will be receiving either handmade jewellery trees or boxes. Not sure about my boys.
    Of course I will be cancelling the 30 day trial without penalty before a payment is due.


    9, November 2011 at 2:16 pm

    • I had that letter from Amazon too! I’m thinking about it. Watching something decent on TV and I could get spoiled. I want to see that film Source Code. I’ll have to look at the website.I don’t have to buy many presents. I got Christmas cards in Lidl!

      9, November 2011 at 3:32 pm

  3. Hi Mike, This is so important. I try to stay away from ostentatious labels as does my husband. A lot of my daughters’ friends only care about a store or designer name being on their clothing but so far my daughters are following their parents’ lead.

    When we moved back to the US last year, we needed to get US cars and we got basic models of cars, nothing fancy.

    I’d rather impress people with kindness than with labels.

    Your common sense is very impressive, Mike. Are you sure you don’t want to run for public office? 🙂

    10, November 2011 at 8:55 pm

    • Hi Carolyn

      I believe when I’m writing anything even fiction to keep it plausible and use common sense.
      I think I should be an advisor to David Cameron! I do occasionally buy certain brands because the quality is better. My late sister was a seamstress and so gave me lots of tips about checking for quality. I can’t get cheap boxer shorts that I like so I bought Pierre Cardin in bulk! I was trying on clothes tonight and half my clothes no longer fit because I used to be so underweight. I did find a pair of new trousers that used to be too big, they fit great now! I think children should be taught about finances and avoiding peer pressure to conform is a good lesson. I do spend money sometimes! I did buy a more expensive laptop because I wanted power and I think I’m getting my money’s worth out the camera!

      10, November 2011 at 9:49 pm

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