Although psychology has made it clear that it is very difficult to predict the behavior of people based on personality, and individual differences people still use their social perceptions to make judgments of others. People often forget about situational factors that may also influence people’s behaviors. The problem is that people who have not studied behavioral, and psychological theories develop their own theories based on personal experiences, and opinions in which they hold these as if their experiences and opinions are absolutely true for the people they are judging. Several psychological studies have been conducted that indicate that in general people fail to account for the situation that a behavior is occurring in as factor for the observed behavior. In one such study, college students were given limited time and limited choices on political topics, other students were required to make a value judgment about the students who wrote on the topics. Even though the students making the judgments knew that the writing students were pressed and limited in what they could write many of the judging students assumed that the people were attached to the views they wrote. This is a clear example of people failing to understand that the situation was a heavy influencing factor on the positions of the writers. Many may argue that quick judgments about other people is a factor in human survival, but the problem is that these judgments do typically occur in survival type situations.
The solution to this problem is education. A look at many organizational employee trainings reveal that solving problems of biased behavior, which one could argue are based in judgments about people who are different from the judger, can be accomplished with appropriate training and exposure to a wide variety of people. In other words, the more you know about people and cultures different from your own the less likely you will be to make inaccurate or biased judgments of others. These factors alone may eliminate your inaccurate social perceptions.
Nier, J. A. (2009). Taking sides: Clashing views in social psychology (3rd Ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.