There are moments in life when we seek out others for help and advice. We’re stuck in our viewpoint of a situation all day, and it’s nice to hear what others have to say in order for us to make the right decision. But why is it that they have a different viewpoint? They have an opposite perspective that we do.
Perspective is based upon a wide arrangement of things. Some of these are physical things, like an actual viewpoint of placement (think standing at the different side of the room opposite to someone), while most are created from a mental quality. Personal background, culture, personality, knowledge of situations, and close/open-mindedness create our perspective on how we view and develop a perspective towards something. Let’s look at a few examples of these.
There are huge perspective differences in our age generations. While the older generations, such as the baby boomers and up, have the mindset of a more traditional lifestyle, the younger generation, thirty and under, have a more modern and open mindset towards different situations in life. Among popular topics are style of dress, marriage laws, and political topics. Are these perspective differences right or wrong? Not really. Because they come from different generations, they have different backgrounds that have set them in the quality of their ways to develop their thoughts and actions. Cultures tend to contrast with their perspective, and this can be concluded with age, gender, or region.
Knowledge of a situation can drastically develop perspective towards our opinions about a topic, especially when it leads to giving advice. If we are given very surface information about a topic, there is not much to base an opinion on, so we go with what is given to us. As more information is released and processed, perspective can change because we have much more to base an opinion on. This happens a lot with how we view people. If we don’t know much about a person, we tend to base them on physical and surface aspects to decide our perspective with what we personally label them as. But when relationships become closer between two people and we experience their personality, most likely we end up changing these original perspectives to a more positive or negative opinion.
More often than not, we tend to cling to the first impression of something. But more often than not, we see things as positive on our first look at them. Coined as the term the halo effect, this is the tendency where an overall opinion is based on the impression that something initially impresses us with one positive characteristic. Positive impressions are usually deemed by the attractiveness of a person or object, whether than the functional ability or qualities of said person or object.
Perception can be also based upon pattern—if we’re used to something being a certain way, our perspective is going to subconsciously relate back to patterns which we’ve experienced in our life. For instance, if we have parents that have a tattoo and they treat us kindly, we respect tattoos and a person is more likely to get one, because of the connotation of pattern we have to them. But, if a parent has a tattoo and that parent is abusive, we have a negative connotation of pattern and our perspective will deem them to not be appealing. Another example can be abortion. Growing up in a religious family, a person will most likely have the outlook that abortion is wrong, contrasting to a nonreligious person whose outlook will be more unbiased (and based off different values).
The value of perspective and how we perceive things is closely related to intercultural communication and how we consider things based on our background culture. But the problem with this perspective is that we judge ourselves more charitable than others—even if our actions are similar—and we will pay more attention to others’ negative characteristics. In most situations, we consider our perspective to be the “correct” outlook, and others that differ in perspective to be
“wrong”. This is known as ethnocentrism. As humans, we often like to assume that others are similar to us, and when someone does an action that conflicts, they’re wrong because they’re different, and we tend not to understand why. The reason we don’t understand is because we don’t see their perspective. In some general aspects (limiting this to American culture), there are topics we almost unanimously agree upon as being “incorrect”: murder and theft, for instance. But theft to some people is their only way for survival, by their perspective. Although majority of us might not see it as being correct, the one stealing may believe so because they have no other option.
Understanding different points of view and why we create the actions we do is how we can create the ability to adapt and comprehend different perspectives. Why we do the things we do correlate to the actions and relations we have with others, and are based upon our lifestyle backgrounds. There are not necessarily no right or wrong ways of doing things, just reasons behind the way they are done.
The Disney Lesson
Tarzan was taken in by a gorilla, Kala, after he was discovered orphaned by his parents in the jungle. Kala’s mate, Kerchak, would not accept the baby as his own because he was different from them, therefore he was considered dangerous. As Tarzan grew, he tried to adapt to a more gorilla-like state in order to please Kerchak, who still dismissed him from affection because his predisposed opinion that Tarzan could never be like them. Tarzan differed from this quality that Kerchak had—when Jane and her father, English scientists coming to study gorillas, discover Tarzan, he tries to learn about the qualities about them and gain perspective of how he viewed people that were similar, but drastically different, from himself. Tarzan didn’t understand how Kerchak could be so biased and opposed to him and Jane, because he never gave them a chance to begin with, instead focusing on their negative qualities. Tarzan exemplifies that although things are different, they can’t be judged until we get a full perception of them. He took the time to learn about the strangers like him because he didn’t have any knowledge on him. Kerchak judged everyone because he didn’t take the time to develop a knowledge on them—he was set in his ethnocentric ways that cultures like him—in this case being a gorilla—were good and humans were to be feared because they were perspectively different.
Ariel in The Little Mermaid was fascinated by the human world. Because it was a culture that contrasted to her own, she liked to study and see how they interacted, and her studies lead her to want to be one of them. Ariel’s father, Triton, did not have the same outlook that she did. He saw them to be dangerous because of such actions they had, such as fishing. He forbade her to interact with them, and destroyed her collection of human objects to prove a point that they were not good people. Ariel didn’t understand Triton’s perspective, stating that she didn’t understand how a world that made such wonderful things could be bad, and he didn’t see things the way she did because he never took the time to. Triton took a predisposed measure of gaining a perspective by surface traits of them. Ariel, being young and more flexible with opinion, took a chance to experience human life firsthand and based her perspective upon that. The younger we are, we are more likely to be persuaded and dis-persuaded on the opinion we give to items, actions, and traits. Youth are still finding their place and identity, and are considered more open-minded. The older we get with age, the more tendency we have to keep our original opinion, because our background experience and culture. But we can overcome these perspectives by aiming to gain knowledge on a subject instead of labeling them straight off, just like how Ariel and Triton created a foundation of their image of the human world.