The Good and Bad of Prejudice

Today I want to talk about prejudice. When you first see someone, you judge them. It only takes a second to make up your mind about someone and this is human nature. It was actually found that only about 7% of your first judgement is based on the actual content of what someone is saying and the other 93% is based on intonation, body language, stance and facial expression. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, it might actually be very useful. Think of when you are walking alone on the street at night (as seen from a girl’s perspective). Your normal route takes you through a tunnel as a shortcut on your way home. But tonight there is a man in this tunnel and you notice he might have been drinking. Now you can decide to skip the shortcut and avoid the man, or walk on through the tunnel. I think most girls or women will decide to take the long way home instead of going through the tunnel. Why? Call it a gut feeling. In this moment we decide to go with the judgement that this man could be dangerous and we don’t want to take a risk. In this moment we decide to go with our judgement, we act upon it without finding out if the man actually is a dangerous drunk. I think most of us would say it was a good decision to avoid the man.prejudice-first-impression-facial-expression-intonation-body-language

But in a lot of other cases (where our lives aren’t at immediate risk) it might be better to put our first judgement aside. At least until we know if our judgement is right or wrong. If for example you walk into a store and the person in front of you lets the door fall closed in your face instead of holding it for you. Now you might think this person is rude. But maybe he or she didn’t realise there was someone behind him or her, or he or she was so deep in thought they simply forgot. Or maybe they just had a bad day or are in a hurry. Yes, their action might not have been the nicest, but the reason behind the action might be entirely different than what you judged it for.

In some other case you might find out someone you thought was very nice at first, actually isn’t. You judged this person as ‘nice’ when you first met them, but after getting to know them better they turn out to be different. When it’s the other way around (so we judge someone as ‘not nice’, when the person actually is nice) we usually don’t try to find out if the ‘not so nice’ person, in fact actually is a nice person, but just didn’t have their best moment at the time we met them.

This might also be where stereotypes come in. Just because someone seems to belong to some group and you have attributed certain qualities to members of this group, doesn’t mean these stereotypes are true. This person might not even belong to the group you judged him or her to be in.

As I said, judging is human nature, it helps us survive. But in non-life-threatening situations it is up to you if you want to act upon what you believe to be true after a first impression, or to look past this and find out if your first impression was correct or not.everyone-judges-everyone

I for example judged one of my very best friends as being a bit arrogant when I first met her years ago. But after I got to know her better I realised she actually wasn’t. I wouldn’t know what to do without her and I am so very glad I got to know her better before acting on my (false) judgement. But I also found out the hard way that one of my friends wasn’t there for me in the way I thought she’d be when I needed her, which caused me to turn away from a friendship that was draining the energy out of me. This friend isn’t a bad person or anything, but she wasn’t the right fit for me, which I previously thought her to be.

Are there situations or people of which your judgement didn’t turn out to be true? And did it change you in any way when you found out it was different? Let me know in the comments down below!



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