Social Perceptions and Biases Term Paper

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Social Perceptions and Bias

Within any organization there is a dual cognitive and emotional role in making decisions. In the 21st century global environment, this role is accentuated and allows far less time than ever before. Typically, decision making is the result of stimuli, then choosing from alternatives based on past and current knowledge, then making a final choice of an action or group of action. One way of looking at the decision making process is that it is ingrained within the human psychological perspective, which makes it both unique and complex for the individual or organization involved. Researchers Seo and Barrett (2007) present a theory that contrary to the popular belief that emotions (feelings) are dysfunctional in decision making, in fact, research shows that individuals who are able to identify and distinguish among feelings have a greater chance of making successful and discreet decisions by looking critically at their own internal bias and finding a more productive outcome and cooperative venture between pure logic and pure emotion.

While it is true that affective influence and reactivity are distinct individual characteristics, the research shows that emotional differentiation has a critical implication for the use of a variety of past experiences in order to be far more predictive about potentially positive outcomes -- likely do to the emotionality of attention honing the specific way these individuals look at the universe and gauge different decision outcomes. In addition, there are often dual and opposing viewpoints regarding affective emotional experience. On view holds that emotions are a source of noise -- of unwanted bias -- and play no part in regulating appropriate levels of decision making (Gross and John, 2003). This paradigm supports the notion that decisions are based on empirical and quantitative knowledge, and as such should be held to a rigorous standard of not only logic, but of sound and reasonable empiricism. The alternative view is more holistic in nature, and focuses on the idea that emotions play an important and adaptive role in decision making. They not only benefit the personal well-being and actualization quality of the individual making the decision, but they
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also improve the chances of overall success because the addition of feelings and emotions into the equation balance out and add substantive, if qualitative, information to the equation, thus ensuring that the answer is far more reasonable and relative to most situations (Gross and John, 2003).

Part 2 - Ashforth and Huymphrey (1995) understand that the workplace environment is often riddled with emotion, yet believe that most research has neglected the way that emotion plays an important role within the organizational process. This, according to the authors, has led to an often negative view of emotion within the decision making environment, so much so that logic and facts are seen as far more important than any other stimuli. Insittutions then have four ways of mitigating (which often means neutralizing) emotions within the workplace: 1) neutralizing, 2) buffering, 3) prescribing, or sometimes 4) normalizing. Neutralizing prevents cultural or socially unacceptable emotions from becoming part of the professional environment. Buffering tempers emotional output and allows for socially acceptable communications; prescribing normalizes these emotions and normalizing helps to regulate and intersperse emotions into the mode of expression or communication. In relation to the influence and reactiving of expressing emotion and even encouraging a more emotional response (as in Seo and Barrett), the authors believe that emotionality and rationality are really two halves of the same coin- both necessary and inseparable for the healthy individual, and therefore the healthy organizational environment. In fact, without an adequate dose of emotionality, issues that are critical to the modern organization (leadership, group dynamics, motivation, job satisfaction, and competitive interpretation) are found wanting. In fact, emotions in the workplace are integral in how the organization communicates internally, establishes their own unique corporate culture, and communicates that culture to outside stakeholders.

Part 3 - Since individuals are unique within both cognitive and emotional reactivity, it also stands to reason that their objective and subjective sets of reality would be divergent. There is a clear psychological difference between moderators and mediators -- based largely on the individual's predisposition between an ability to establish strong relations between the mediating…

Sources Used in Documents:


Ashforth, B., Humphrey, R. (1995). Emotion in the Workplace: A Reappraisal.

Human Relations. 48 (2): 97-125.

Baron, R., Kenney, D. (1986). The Moderator-Mediator Variable Distinction in Social

Psychological Research. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 51 (6): 1173-82.

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