Living in a world of perception

We all perceive reality in a distinctive manner based on a unique perception we have of the events on our mind. What I believe true and right might not be the same for you. And we are often misjudged and biased when we say “this is how it works in reality”.

Based on the choices, we make hundreds of decisions every day. When I think “I want to watch a movie today,” I browse my choices of cinemas nearby and end up with the choice that gives me maximum welfare, such as “movie in an affordable cinema, a place where I have choices of food outlets and access to easy transportation from and to home.” We choose the option that will give us the most benefit and at the same time fulfilling most of our desires. But often times, these choices are shaped based on our perception which creates a set of beliefs. Beliefs are our perception of the world on what is right and wrong as we see it.

“Why do we always believe we are right?” This is because we fail to see the world from other people’s point of view. We fail to acknowledge that a person reacts in a way and take decisions based on how they see the world and their courses of action. “What you see is what you react to” and affects the others person’s attitude on how they approach things. For example; without hesitation, we all agree Adolf Hitler was a notorious, unethical and ruthless leader because of all the decisions he oversaw. But do we, for even a second, try to understand, that his actions were based on how he perceived the world, how his perceptions shaped the belief regarding how things should be done and that for him, is perfectly alright? Or do we reflect on ourselves, trying to understand why we believe what we believe, ponder on who shaped our opinions regarding Hitler and created the perception that he is the “merciless man”?

I’m sure there will be many people who have not studied Hitler, the “what, when, why, how and to whom” is not all too clear to everyone. But without forehand knowledge about him, we still believe he is a ruthless killer because of how our perceptions are anchored. The repeated knowledge of his actions on mass social media, schools, universities and work places has increased the probability in our mind to believe what is being broadcast is true. But “how far do we go back to history” to see that everything we learned is true, or are we just too lazy and decided to believe what is already out there?

The point is everyone has biased views, not that our views regarding Hitler is necessarily biased. We only believe what satisfies ourselves based on how we see the world. Even if we try to be objective, we will be biased because our brains are wired in such a way that we are partially impaired to any opposing view. This is why it becomes impossible for us to be sympathetic to serial killers, pedophiles or criminals, because we believe that killing, abuse, torture and crimes are merciless. Our brains are already wired to understand that these things are wrong and believe that people who committed these should be punished. Even if we learn the history and the childhood of those criminals, we fail to sympathize because we can’t contemplate the notion that “for the criminal, those actions made sense and it was his perception that he has to do it”.  It is human psychology that we all suffer from bounded rationality and the version of reality we see is only based on the information we have. We all have self-interests and welfare that is bounded by selfishness –  that compels me to say “no one can be unbiased”, it is just not possible!


  1. I don’t think it is just a “perception” to believe Hitler was merciless from documentaries that could have been faked (if that is what you meant). My husband’s father and step-father were both in Germany and saw the concentration camps.
    I do feel very sorry for murderers, terrorists and gang members. I know that isn’t the common reaction. When I was younger, I thought they were all terrible people. But learning a bit about psychology, I just feel sorry for them now. It is almost like they can’t help being who they are.
    A reporter asked an ISIS prisoner why he hated the U.S. so much. He said he was a Sunni. Before the U.S. came to Iraq he had a good job and was happy. Now he has lost everything. So, yes, I do understand his side of things. What is sad is that he hates, because hatred will ultimately destroy him.
    I try to be unbiased, but I think you are right. It would be impossible for anyone to be completely unbiased about everything in the world.

    • I totally agree with your point Belle! What I meant about “perception” and the example of Hitler is, we fully dont understand his rationalization of the events. As normal humans we believe killing, torture and abuse is wrong, but how certain are we that Hitler saw his actions as “crimes”. For him it might just have been actions of obedience, discipline, control and power. Also being “unbiased” does not justify every wrong we do and make it “acts of rightfulness.”
      What you said about the ISIS prisoner, from his perception he might have lost everything. family, friends, love, job and the happy life he was living before US invaded Iraq. The loss of everything has shaped his perceptions and actions towards hatred as he don’t know how else he can claim justice for what has been done to him. But if we see this as point of US, their stance would be to destroy these people and rationalize themselves just like Invasion of Iraq in 2003.
      So at the end, no matter small or big the course of actions or events, it is all about “How you see the world from where you stand”.

  2. This made me think again about the origin of my biases. Always good to remind myself there are others points of view. Thanks for calling me to your blog by your Follow of mine.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Types of leadership – Rules of Knowledge
  2. TRUST – Faith and Belief – Rules of Knowledge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.