Explore Partisan Perceptions
By Roger Fisher, Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Kupfer Schneider
This Article Summary written by: Mariya Yevsyukova, Conflict Research Consortium
Ciation: Fisher, Roger, Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Kupfer Schneider. "Explore Partisan Perceptions." Beyond Machiavelli: Tools for Coping with Conflict. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press, 1994. Pp. 21-23.
Based on their life experiences, people develop different perceptions of things and events. New information often gets filtered through people's established system of views and is used selectively by them to support partisan perceptions.
An example of this is provided by an experiment conducted by the authors with white officials while working in South Africa. Participants were asked to look at a picture which simultaneously depicted an old woman and a young woman. Prior to this, they were split into two groups and each group was predisposed to see only one of the images. Predisposed to see a particular image, those groups were not able to see the alternative and tried to convince the others to see the picture their way. When participants were shown the trick, they were quite amazed how influential their predisposition was. One of them admitted that if the people whom he tried to convince of the correctness of his image were black, he would have completely dismissed their opinions, rather than being just puzzled by the differences in perceptions.
For dealing with conflicts constructively it is very important to understand others' perspectives and worldviews; then it is easier to alter them.