Social Value Bias – How Perception of Value Alters our Cognitive Frame
For example, in the show Undercover Bosses, the CEO will dress like an employee and be treated accordingly. The trainer’s perception of the undercover CEO affects the trainer’s cognitive frame and changes the social dynamics of the interaction (despite the fact that the actual value of the CEO has remained unchanged).
TIP: There are lots of ways to describe social value bias, and you should know, it is essentially a theory of the author based on random self-help advice , social science, and marketing techniques. There is no real agreed on definition of “social value” (in politics it means adding value to the community, in picking up mates and business deals it means commanding respects, etc) and there are no exact sources to quote for the overarching theory, ultimately i’ve just mish-mashed ideas on social value from different schools of thought into a overarching useful theory.
FACT: Another type of value bias is commitment bias. Learn more about the related commitment bias and other value biases.
How Perception of Value Affects “Respect”
If something is perceived as having “high-value”, it typically commands more “respect” (admiration, desire, etc); if something is perceived as having “low-value”, it typically commands less respect. Our perception of something, and the amount of “respect” we feel toward it, greatly affects how we act toward it.
Example: We automatically give respect to someone in uniform, and less respect to someone in overly casual or dirty clothes. We perceive the person in the suit to have “high-value” and the person in the suit to have “low-value”. In this way, “the value we perceive a person to have affects the amount of respect we give them”.
This “value bias” is especially important to anyone who wishes to command respect in social settings, or understand group social dynamics.
TIP: As a general rule of thumb in most settings, a sport jacker improves people’s perception of you.
Social Value Overview
Elements of high-value and low-value shape our impressions of things, and that affects respect (especially in regards to first impressions).
The relationship between value and respect is somewhat philosophical but is backed up by social and biological science. Studies have shown interesting patterns in human behavior, and a lot of that has been related back to how the brain works and how bias works.
Let’s look at some examples of how perception of value affects respect given (then we will look at some of the science behind it):
- If you work hard for something, you place more value on it, and you respect (appreciate) it more.
- If walk into a store you’ll probably give more respect to the manager than the employee. The manager’s “higher value” status immediately equates to them being more deserving of your respect.
- If you wrote a popular novel and become respected as an author or if you are a famous rock star, you are automatically perceived to have high value and are given respect based on your apparent status.
- If you walk into a fancy restaurant in your pajamas you are perceived as low-value, unless you are recognized as high-value. For example, if Bill Gates walked into a fancy restaurant in sweatpants he would still get preferential treatment.
What is Perceived Value?
Perceived value is the amount of worth you place on a person, place, or thing. It is the amount of value that you perceive something to have.
This video talks about perceived value. This subject is somewhat philosophical, but there is social and biological science here. From Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to wanting to fit in with your friends, and beyond.
What is Respect?
Respect is the feeling of admiration you have for something based on their abilities, qualities, and achievements.
Low-Value Versus High Value
- If you perceive something to have a high value, you tend to have more admiration for it.
- If you perceive something to have low value, you tend to have less admiration for it.
What Does This Mean in Practice?
It means when you offer someone value, or you conduct yourself in such a way that people perceive you to have value, that equates directly to the amount of respect you will be given.
The amount of respect you are given equates to your influence. The way you are treated by others is a big factor in your success in social situations. The impacts of this are far reaching affecting socialization, business, and all other areas that deal with influence.
Ways to Increase the Perception of Value
Some of the main ways to increase people’s perception of your value are:
- The way you dress. Dressing in a way that garners respect (like a suit jacket in a more formal situation) increases your value. This differs by social setting and culture. Envision the President’s suit or Steve Job’s turtleneck.
- Body language. Posture, handshakes, even the way you cross your legs communicates how people should treat you and how much value you have.
- The manner in which you speak is important. People react to accents, very fast or very slow rates of speech, filler-words like “like” and “uh”, big words like “supercalifragilistic exp iali quantum physics“, and the repetition of small words / swear words. Everything about the way you speak affects perceived value.
- The information you relay to people and how you relay it creates an impression. If you provide people with high-quality information, have good conversations with them, and make them feel good (especially by making them laugh), they will equate that with you having a higher value. If you recount tales of you yachting with President, they will perceive you as having a higher value.
Ways to Actually Increase Your Value
The ways to actually increase your value have very little to do with the perception of value.
Generally, we can increase our value by:
- Learning and gaining valuable information. Learn new things that can be the basis of information and stories to relay to others can increase perceived importance.
- Doing something of worth. Do something important to yourself or others. Increase experiences that are related to perceived value such as hobbies and travel.
- Treat others well. Putting good out into the world shapes your reality and theirs.
We could add success and money to the above, but actually learning, doing something of worth, and treating people well will in most cases be what equates to money and success for you. In some ways actually creating your value is a little simpler and more natural than managing the perception of your value.
You can affect perceived value over time, but nothing trumps the first impression. The first impact you make on a person or people will influence their view of you and your value. This means if you use proper dress, tone, words and body language you can do most of the hard work in moments.
People Versus Brands
All the information on this page applies pretty equally to companies, entities, groups, people, places, and things. The focus here is on people, but we can draw analogies to any type of thing. For a brand, the way it dresses is the look of the marketing or the physical parts it puts out into the world for instance.
Wait, what is perception anyway? This video talks about sensation and perception from a biological point of view.
The Science Behind Respect and Perceived Value
We are evolutionarily hardwired to be selective of friends and partners. We need to be able to recall faces, and sense stranger danger as a matter of survival. Our short-term working memory and attention are a limited resource. Right off the bat, your brain starts picking up on social cues to paint a picture of a person or thing. Nearly immediately a person forms their first impression and literally encodes the experience in their brain. If this is a Zune, an iPad, a Trump, or a Clinton it matters little. Their future actions and value matter, but it is the first moments of introduction that shapes their future.