People Will Misjudge You Unless You Manipulate Them
Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson talks about inaccurate perceptions, and how we view ourselves is often not how we come across to others.
Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson is a social psychologist who researches, writes, and speaks about the science of motivation. She is the Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia Business School, Senior Consultant for the Neuroleadership Institute, and author of the best-selling books:
Succeed: How We Can All Reach Our Goals, Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing The World for Success and Influence (co-written with E. Tory Higgins), and The 8 Motivational Challenges.
Halvorson is also a contributor to the Harvard Business Review, 99u, Fast Company, WSJ.com, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today.
In addition to her work as author and co-editor of the highly-regarded academic book The Psychology of Goals (Guilford, 2009), she has authored papers in her field’s most prestigious journals, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, European Journal of Social Psychology, and Judgment and Decision Making. She has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation for her research on goals and achievement.
HGH is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and was recently elected to the highly selective Society for Experimental Social Psychology. She gives frequent invited addresses and speaks regularly at national conferences, and is available for speaking and consulting engagements, primarily in education, marketing, and management. She received her PhD in social psychology from Columbia University.
Heidi Grant Halvorson: One of the challenges I think that we need to face head on when we think about how we come across to other people is really understanding that perception is tricky and that for your perceiver, the person who’s trying to understand you, it’s really kind of an uphill battle. They’re operating on very little information trying to get the right, accurate image of you. But the good news is that the kinds of mistakes that perceivers make are very predictable. It’s not random. We know a lot about the kinds of signals a person sends and how they tend to be perceived by other people. President Obama, when he was running for reelection, had his first debate with Mitt Romney and he went into it, according to everything that was said afterwards, he had gone into it really trying to seem presidential and not wanting to rise to debate, kind of trying to take advantage of the fact that he was coming in as an incumbent president. And it turned out that at the end of it people who were in the audience, even people who were fans of President Obama, thought that he had come across as lethargic, as disengaged, wondering if he had had enough sleep that night. And afterwards he was really quite surprised when he spoke to his aides to find out how poorly he had done because he really thought he was very successfully coming across as above the fray and presidential when, in fact, he was actually seeming sort of out of it. And so you can think if someone like President Obama who’s really a gifted orator and has a lot of experience trying to come across to other people in a particular way, if he can be so wrong about how he’s coming across, then it’s obviously pretty easy for the rest of us to make the same mistake.
We tend to think that other people are really paying attention, really trying to understand us. I mean most of the time they’re happy to just get the gist of you and the gist can be totally wrong. The first phase of perception, what Kahneman calls system one thinking, is really the part that’s very automatic. It happens completely below your awareness and that’s where the perceiver is really trying to figure out, you know, the basics of you. Are you an anxious person or an honest person or a smart person or a warm person? And we use — the brain uses sort of basic trait terms to understand you, kind of just the gist of who you are. When we go into phase two, we take a more nuanced view of who you are. So then that’s the phase where you start to do things like take the context of someone’s behavior into account, take into account what you know of them outside this one situation. Really try to get a more nuanced view of what this person is like. Now the problem is phase one is automatic. It’s content to just get the gist. It uses shortcuts and rules of thumb in order to really kind of get a sense of who you are in that thin slice sort of way. Phase two is not automatic. It is labor-intensive. It requires a lot of effort and energy to get a more nuanced view of another person. So what happens is that much of the time people are never going past phase one. When they’re trying to understand you, they’re just getting the gist and they’re either not motivated to go into phase two and try to really get a more nuanced view of you or they’re just unable to go into phase two because they’re so busy with all the other things we have to pay attention to. So the point of the book was really to give people that research, that science that shows: Look, if you want to come across as trustworthy, if you want to come across as friendly, if you want to come across as competent or caring, these are the signals, right. This is the body language. These are the kinds of things you can say in order to really clearly convey that intent and come across the way you intend to. So it’s definitely a challenge coming across the way you intend to, but it’s definitely a challenge that, with the right tools, you can master.
"Perception is tricky," explains Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, an associate director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia Business School. There's this notion that the way we see ourselves is the way others see us as well — not true. In her book No One Understands You and What to Do About It, she talks about the two phases of perception: automatic and thoughtful. People rarely try to move past that first phase where people have a "gist" of who you are as a person — most of the time, that's all they want. Halvorson explains some of the barriers that hinder people from going into that second phase and looking at you as a more nuanced person.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.