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Selective Perception Selective perception is the personal filtering of what we see and hear so as to suit our own needs. Much of this process is psychological and often unconscious. Have you ever been accused of only hearing what you want to hear. In fact, that is quite true. We simply are bombarded with too much stimuli every day to pay equal attention to everything so we pick and choose according to our own needs.


Halo Effect The halo effect has to do with judging or evaluating a person, place, or event by a single trait or experience. This overall impression can be good or bad but will prejudice our further involvement with the stimulus. Each of us can remember making a snap judgment about someone based on a first impression. Often we try to perceive further interaction with the individual based on this first impression, regardless of whether it was positive or negative. If this impression is incorrect, it often takes considerable pressure to concede this fact and break the halo effect. Examples are plentiful in business. A plush office convinces us someone is an important person in the organization and must be taken seriously. A sloppily typed letter by our new secretary proves to us the individual is going to be an unsatisfactory employee. The halo effect often shows up most conspicuously on performance appraisals where our overall good or bad opinion of the workers interferes with our ability to evaluate weaknesses or strengths accurately on individual job functions.

Selective Perception in Public Assessment of the Press and the Presidential Scandal

Job the press has done covering allegations Total % Republicans % Independents % Democrats %%
Excellent/Good 46 61 46 35
Only fair/Poor 51 35 52 61
Don't Know/Refused 3 4 2 4
Total 100 100 100 100


Question: How good a job are news organizations doing at reporting about the allegations against President Clinton . . . an excellent job, a good job, only a fair job or a poor job?
Source: "Popular Policies and Unpopular Press Lift Clinton Ratings," Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, News Release dated 2/6/98, p. 4.

More definitions and additional examples:


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