Issues arising from selective attention at the workplace

3821 words (15 pages) Essay in Psychology

5/12/16 Psychology Reference this

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To people, events and objects that we meet in our daylight lives are roughly unwavering complex and comprehensive. Any given incentive is possible to posses numerous ascribes, and our appraisal of the stimulus may be contingent on which characteristics we focus on in our decision making. What we hear, see, feel and remember vary not only on the in sequence entering our senses, but also in the lead which facet of this we prefer to focus, William James (1890/1950)3 emphasized this alleged that “my experience is what I agree to attend to” his explanation was as we must all have been in circumstance where we botched to notice something in daily life because our mind was engaged along with something else. C. Neil Macrae et.el (1995)1 emphasized in the journal of selection in person perception as “any given stimulus is likely to posses multiple attributes, and our evaluation of the stimulus may depend on which of these attributes we focus on in our decision making”.



Sensory Input:

Incoming raw data

Selective Attention:

We cannot pay attention

To everything

“Top Down”


Perceptual organization:

We look for order, pattern, and meaning


Sense-making, seeking closur

Behavioral response

Figure 1: Elements in the process of perception (Jon Driver-2001)2

The main essentials in the perceptual process are illustrated in figure-1 based on selective perception leads to selective attention according to a psychological view point. The ‘bottom-up’ stage involved the way in which we handle the raw data obtain by our sensory systems. Needs for selectivity is one of the key characteristics of bottom-up processing anxiety. We merely not able to concentrate all sensory data in order available to us at any given time, therefore bottom up processing sort it out and less pertinent information so that we can hub on what is significant. The ‘top-down’ stage, in distinction apprehension the mental procession that consent to us interpret, to order, and make sense of deficient sensory in sequence. The missing word, comma, or mistaken spelled phrase does not normally decode with the grasp of the human reader.

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However selective attention is the generic phrase for those apparatuses which escort our experience to be conquered by one thing rather than another. There is currently an insight and real difficulty among behavioural organization and managerial activities facing increasing amount of disjointed, overwhelmed with recurrent interruptions, concurrent action, and various inputs from their perception and selectivity in workplace. Nevertheless, it is aimed this report to identify the main selective attention issues involved in workplace and solution of errors how can a manager thwart some of these issues are arising.

Definition of selective attention:

David Buchanan (2004)4 defined selective attention as “it is the ability, often exercised unconsciously to choose from the stream of sensory data, to concentrate on particular elements and to ignore others”. Yunxia Tong and et.el (2007)5 described selective attention as “it is refers to the process by which organisms focus on task-relevant information, targets, and attempts to ignore irrelevant information, distracters”. Schulz-Hardt, Fischer and Frey (2007)6 propose that “information search is determined by subject quality”. His explanation was decision makers cannot assess information superiority from their own point of view and a proceeding decision-relevant knowledge, coherence information obtained a subject superiority advantages, and therefore is methodically preferred to selectivity.

However, question can be asked loss decision edges induce more conflict or negatively expressed decision alternatives may persuade further through evaluation in order to avoid disappointment in decision-making? The actuality that we are able makes use of partial and vague information by filling the space from our individual knowledge and past experience. Dawson, Gilovich and Regan (2002)7 argue that “individuals with disbelieving mindset are less prone to display a confirmation prejudice in context of task”. How often do we suppose that people are alike just because they reside work in the equal similar section in the organization, or same neighbourhood, or just because they same costume, or similar ethnic origin? Consequently this can reason the increase of phoney rumours in organizations due to selective attention issues involved in workplace.

Selective attention Issues at workplace:

Selective Issues:

Halo Effect


Perceptual defence

Contrast Effect




The correctness of interpersonal judgment and perception made concerning other people are manipulated by the character of the relationship between the distinguisher and the other person, the vast of information obtainable to the perceiver and the regulated in which information is established, and the extent and nature of interface between the two people. There are some main futures that can create meticulous difficulties and individual perceptual problem, prejudice or distortion in our transactions with other people at workplace perspective. These are:

Halo Effect:

The term halo effect was first used psychologist Thorndike (1920)8 described as it is the process by which the perception of a person is devised on the starting point of a single favourable, positive, or negative, or unfavourable characteristics or impression. Abelson et al. (1968)9 addressed journal of Theories of cognitive consistency as “Halo effect may be subconscious in origin and may simply reflect the subject’s tendency to maintain cognitive consistency”. However, hallo effect is the making judgment against a person’s physical appearance, social setting, posture, and non-verbal behaviour with first meeting no count second chance to make a first thought. Holbrook (1981)12 proposed structural model of halo effect which consist specifically, given tentative manipulations of features and calculates assess the degree of perceptual distortion due to affective feedback.

Halo Effects


Activity and future



Other Control


Figure 2: Structural Model of Halo Effect (Holbrook, 1981)12

This model suggests that halo effect arise in workplace perceptions in due to procedure, and perceptual partiality, improper feedback and no-significant pessimistic halo coefficients for complexity and activity at workplace. It can be effect in the workplace as: For instance a new portion of worker who execute well in an initial foremost task and the superior or manager supposed as expected to person for promotion, despite the fact that the task is not distinctive of the standard duties the member of staff is anticipated to undertake. A solitary characteristic, for example a member of staff good attendance and time maintenance, may perhaps become the most important highlighting for judgment of taken as whole performance and competence rather than other considerations such as the quality, quantity, and truthfulness of work.


This is a propensity to assign negative or positive characteristics to a person on the beginning with a general grouping and distinguish similarities. In the journal of a dual process model of impression formation Brewer (1988)10 emphasized “stereotype as we believe that when perceivers encounter a target, they identify several competing super-ordinate categories to which he or she belongs”. The perception of that person may be basis further on definite expected individuality than on the gratitude of that person as a being. Fiske & Neuberg (1990)11 describe as “people are perhaps the most complex stimuli we encounter, in part because they simultaneously belong to multiple social categories (e.g., age, group, ethnicity, sex)”. Listed any one of these contending categorizations can approach to dominate our appraisals of others. However, stereotyping awareness is that to signifying of simplifying the progression of perception, creating sense of the world and assembling judgments of other people as a substitute of dealing with a variety of multifaceted and substitute stimuli.

Bored tired Eys

Dirty Unbrush Hair

An Unshaved Face

Old Math Problem

Lazy Fat

(A Drawing Picture)

It takes place when an individual is critics on the base of the unit to which it is recognized that person belongs. Basically we can identify as when we see all members belonging to a specific group as having the identical distinctiveness, we can symbolize as stereotyping individual. Pre-judgment are thus made about an individual lacking ever actually knowing weather such decision or judgments are correct; they may be violently wrong. Example can be the perception of people with AIDS or HIV. However, the most important risk of stereotyping is that is can chunk out accurate perception of the entity or individual circumstances in workplace.

Example of general stereotyping may be established at workplace based on:

Nationality: for instance in workplace individualized as all Chinese are hard worker than other nationality.

Occupation: for example all accountants are uninteresting; all personnel are solemn and undemonstrative.

Age: All young, fresh workers strong and unreliable brain storming, no old workers want to think new ideas.

Physical: in workplace all people with brown hair have a burning temperament, and all fat workers are lazy.

Education: for instance all new hired fresh graduates are smart in workplace.

Social: stereotype threat would be most possible to be experienced by African Americans in those jobs for which aptitude is whispered to be a significant determined.

Politics: for instance all labour voters support soft HRM (Human Resource Management) candidate, all official voters support hard HRM candidate.

Although stereotyping compresses the amount of information that we require to understand and thus facilitate us to cope with huge information flow, the consequences of ascribing incorrect characteristics are enormously negative. Stereotyping deduce that all people within a specific apparent perceived group are supposed to share the same characters or traits. An important social insinuation of stereotyping is hence the perception held concerning particular group of people basis on, for example: Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Religious Belief, and Age. Stereotype may lead to possible stimulations of chauvinism or discrimination. A major issue facing workplaces worldwide is the happening of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment behaviour between employees and management peoples. Nevertheless, workplace bullying is offending, harassing, social excluding someone or unhelpful affecting someone’s work assessment, frequently, regularly, and over episode of time, stirring is an escalating procedure in the course of which the person tackled ends up in a poorer position and turn out to be the target of methodical negative selective attention. WorkSafe Victoria (2006)18 comments workplace discrimination as “repeated unreasonable behaviour directed toward and employee or group of employees that creates a risk to individuality”. However, targets of workplace bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment behaviour, may harm or undergo and affect a wide range of psychological and physical symptoms, including anxiety and stress about work, depression, fearfulness, loss of confidence, inferior job satisfaction, diminished organizational commitment and increase selective attention.

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Perceptual Defence:

Perceptual Defence is the propensity to shun or screen out certain incentives that are perceptually distressing or intimating. People may be inclined to choose information that is compassionate of their point of view and select not to knowledge obstinate information. For example, a manager who has determined lately to promote a staff alongside the advice of colleagues may choose only complementary or favourable in sequence which sustains that ignore-less and decision favourable information which query’s that determinations. Erdelyi, Mathhhew, H (1974)14 argued in journal of perceptual defence and vigilance as it is a analysis, homunculus, including reasonable paradox, frequency, a range of response partiality position, and expectancy-set, are theoretically flowed or observation and experimental incomplete. However, perceptual defence selectivity is a perceptual attention on regard multiprocessor compound of phenomena under vital regulative control error in workplace.


Laurie, J. Mullins (2007)15 described Projection as “attributing, or projection one’s own feelings, or characteristics to other people is a further distortion which can occur in the perception of the other people”. However opinion of other people could be more constructive when they have traits principally in common with, perceiver and simply familiar by. Projection may as well consequence in people overstating objectionable characteristics in others that they might be unsuccessful to distinguish with themselves. Selective projection issue can be danger in workplace for example, a manager who anxious about probable dismissal may perceive rest-off managers to be even more worried. Conversely, projection perception is own and how people observe and think of themselves, and appraise themselves at work place.

Self-fulfilling prophecy:

Brophy (1983)16 and Jones, (1977)17 defined the term “self-fulfilling prophecy designation a situation where a Person’s expectation of a particular event causes the actual occurrence of this event”. However self-fulfilling prophecy is a people’s belief or philosophy or expectations manipulate their behaviour and actions in such a way as to contrast the expectation and beliefs more likely to come true. Unintentional in terms of the causal next to kin between the first expectation and the final effect, he / she not have been explained as uninvolved: because of the anticipation held, the anticipator engages in a specific behaviour, and eventually leading to the authentication of the expectation. A prospect of mangers has an influential persuade on the behaviour on the performance and behaviour of staff in workplace. For example, if a manager require only negligible performance from workers, they are not apt to perform the most excellent of their aptitudes.

Prevention of Avoiding Addressed Selective Issues:

Today’s workforce is self-possessed of a broad mixture of peoples of dissimilar races, ages, nationality, religions, and classes. Projections of prospect trends direct to an even further expanded workforce a variety of patterns of thinking, believing, and behaving. This prototype manipulates how members of diverse work group envisage and perform their jobs, and handle selective issues (halo effect, stereotype, projection, self-fulfilling prophecy, and perceptual defence) arise at workplace. However, to prevent selective issues a manager can go along with following solutions:

Distinguish Between Facts and Suppositions:

To avoid errors of selective issues a manager require to distinguish between facts and suppositions which escort for collecting sufficient information about other peoples and basing the considered opinion on information that is relevant and significant. Not to see what a manager aspect to see and what a manager want to see should investigate further and not allowing initial information about someone to influence their judgment, but later consistence information should re-investigate, Develop self-awareness, and considering of how own personal partialities and preferences influence own perceptions and decisions of other people. Need to check a managers own attributions – the suppositions they make about the causes of particularly and behavior, and reviewing link they made relating personality and aspect, behavior in one hand and appearance on the other hand.

Creating a Supportive Culture:

In the workplace environment a manager can prevent Selective Error with coefficient feedback avoid complexity, motion, and potency which are contradictory in indication from their overconfidence instant following complement. If a manager require only negligible performance from workers, they are not apt to perform the most excellent of their aptitudes. Therefore, managers necessitate establishing an organizational scaffold and supportive culture that strengthen optimistic performance expectations at all stage of the organization. Subordinate should also be give confidence and encouraged to have excessive and high self-expectation of performance because of working in particular direction and common goal are the key components for creating supportive culture.

Stalking from social tempted:

Elaine Carter, (1982)19 comments as “the propensity to stereotype is woven into our societal fabric”. We have innate legacy of putting others behind because of their group individuality, be it a particular gender, race, age, social class, nationality, religion, or whatever; A manager needs to recognize organizational cultural circumstances and its impact on how people relate to one another and how they work. Manager needs to examine their own perceptions and innate organizational values as well as scrutinize and expectations of associate or co-workers. However a manager should identify the problems nuisance or stalking from social tempted stereotyping and analyze impact on people’s capability to work based on selective prevention.

Organizational Effectiveness:

A controlling Organizational Effectiveness can be decreased all Selective Attention errors in workplace with following decisions. A manager he/ she must have become more and more comfortable in seeking and look at new behaviors- letting the disagreements, identifying any nervousness and differences become unambiguous in organizational effectiveness or not, if yes then analyzing these by the efficiency goals rather than by individual perceptions, and not to compliant stereotypes uncritically. Elaine Carter, (1982)21 comment as “socially inherited values do not stop at the company’s door, but stereotyping can damage the work climate by fostering interpersonal conflicts and reducing commitment of the companies goal”. Furthermore, survey can be given to supervisors, subordinates, co-workers to evaluate how their managers come across when dealing with workplace members who are different.

Interpersonal Communication:

The expansion of self-knowledge can be an uncomfortable practice. In organizational selective attention perception, very often restrained in the expression of managers emotions (positive or negative) about others; cause of cultural or social norms, and also communication obstacles erected by category, importance, position and power difference. This may be able to be overcome enduring a training course in organization on the based on interpersonal skills, personal growth, and self-awareness intend. Training in interpersonal expertise communication skills characteristically emphasizes openness and truthfulness in relationships, and energetic listening skills, compassion to non-verbal behaviour, non-evaluative feedback and effort like key tools for avoiding selective attention errors.


The nature of humans as we would like to imagine that we on top of it all, we cannot obtain absent from the truth that we are humans with human error. The process of perception has been discussed as selective is an error in workplace perspective: In the contrary others it could be other way around.

For instance Halo Effect perspective, a candidate arrived late for interview that does not mean that the candidate is a first looking very good appearance leads to get this job. The person might be poor time keeper and unreliable. Another example we addressed may be a new staff that performs poorly in a first major task this may have cause of curious set of situation and not for distinctive behaviour, but the person may even now be perceived as an unfair appointment. However particular hazard with the halo effect is that where rapid decisions made only eagerly available stimuli, a manger may become observational blind to subsequent stimuli at inconsistency with the origin insight and perceive only that individuality that sustain the original judgment at workplace.

Another issue we have discussed as Stereotype is based on more certain expected characteristics than on the detection of that as an individual in workplace. Kanter (1977)13 argued that “the presence of tokens highlights group difference, resulting in tokens being viewed by others in terms of their identity group membership”. If stereotyping concentrates the amount of in sequence that we require to know and therefore facilitate us to manage with enormous information flow, the penalty of erroneous aspect at workplace characteristics is extremely would be unenthusiastic because………….


Stereotyped Image


Talkative, emotional, romantic, demonstrative, and bold


Macho, Manana Attitude, touchers, music lovers


Intelligent, golfers, soft-spoken, inscrutable, polite and xenophobic

(Approximate Table)

Clearly, while some peoples of each of these characteristics and culture may possess some of the quality of their stereotype, it would be incorrect to claim that every people of a culture shared the similar characteristics to the same amount.

As we have discussed a most important risk of stereotyping is that it can chunk out accurate perception of the entity or individual circumstances in workplace. But it also arguable that it can be lead to positive impending situations of narrow-mindedness discrimination at workplace daily activities. For example, a large figure of employees still seems to support negative and inexact stereotypes about the qualification, aptitude, competency and training of older workers. But some organizations, such as B&Q, have recruitment policy in certain stores with candidate over 50 years of old which is definitely appreciating idea.

( )22 [Accssed-04/03/10]

Another instance we have addressed that Projection Error is a result in people exaggerating undesirable mannerism in others that they disappoint to recognise in themselves. But it can be as a manager who think all subordinates as disingenuous may be projecting one of the managers own quality.


The process of perception has been sketch out as selective attention error in workplace perspective; through out the defining, positive reasoning, identifying issues, solutions, critical evaluation and presented application of academic theories and models we can assume as the process of perception hook up a managers physiology with his/her premeditated thoughts and behaviour as well as a managers unconscious habits and suppositions. Perception is the origin of all organizational activates and any circumstances can be investigated in terms of its perceptual connotations.

For managers comprehension of perception in necessary to ensure that they are conscious of the problem that can evolve from the practice of perceptual attention and selectivity at workplace. The process of perception inherently organized and patterned in command to provide meaning for the individual. Part of the explanation of perceiving other people are to ascribe characteristics to them.

A manager judge their intention and behaviour on past knowledge and in contrast with other people they already know. Perception gives ascend to individual behavioural reactions in given situation. The main beliefs of perceptual differences imitate the way a manager observe other people and are the basis of many organizational difficulties.

In the workplace situation, the process of selection and perception of stimuli can manipulate a manager’s relationship with other subordinate or staffs. Hence, solutions were addressed as managers of diverse work group obvious established an ordinary work-group culture; this requires training, instituting new arrangements as well as using effectual interpersonal skills, feedback, self-awareness, further investigating, assist workforce who have been bullied, allowance consistence information, identifying managers own attribution, compassionate to non-verbal behaviour, surveying within the organization for evaluate opinion, analyse the efficiency goals rather than individualistic, analysing impact on peoples capabilities in work, and recommended to not complained stereotype uncritically.

However, there five most important errors which may give rise to perceptual misrepresentation or errors are halo effect, stereotyping, projection, perceptual defence, and self-fulfilling prophecy. In the work situation, perceptual selective differences reproduce the way we distinguish with work team members and it is important to understand a manager workplace selectivity to ignore those issues.

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