Don’t Be a Hater, It’s Making You Sad

guy with glasses thinking

Watch out, what you say about others may actually be like holding a mirror to yourself.  A recent study published in the  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examined “perceiver effects,” a tendency for people to view others as having the same personality and motives as they do. Your IQ, your gender, and your attitude may reveal more about your own personality than you think.

Three separate studies were conducted on college undergraduates to determine the extent that personal characteristics affect a person’s perception of other people.

Research participants with positive perceptions of others were more likely to be satisfied with their own life. They were less likely to be depressed. Plus, the study participants who liked people, had a greater sense of fitting in. Interestingly, the “positive perceivers” had a lower desire to have power over others, less fear of being in a position of power, and lower sense of misusing power or being socially dominant. When it comes to viewing themselves, the positive people typically described themselves as happy too.

On the flip side, those with negative perceptions of others were more likely to judge others as more extraverted, less agreeable, and less emotionally stable. The researchers found “negative perceivers” were also more likely to experience bouts of the “blues.”

It gets more interesting. Those with higher GPA, SAT scores and IQ scores view others as “less open to experience” and less conscientiousness. Brainiacs, however, did tend to rate other people as more agreeable. Additionally, the women in the study, more so than men, were more likely to rate others positively. Women also had a tendency to judge others as more extraverted, conscientious, and open to experience.

The findings aren’t conclusive or definitive, but they are intriguing. Yes, the “perceiver effects” study was small and not the best reflection of every day society. Nor does it fully support the idea that a person’s perception is only related to their personality or disposition.

Perceiver effects may in fact be self-perpetuated. Viewing others positively allows a person to become friendlier to others, and other people respond in kind. It’s also very likely that the opposite true: perceiving others negatively may initiate a vicious cycle for others to behave negatively, which in turn leads to a confirmation of a person’s original perception.


Think about that the next time you perceive others. Happy Perceiving!


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  • Maybe ignorance is bliss, and people who are negative perceivers are depressed because they’re seeing the truth. People who are surrounding them, mostly… suck.

  • Stevecivic, Welcome to the Internet. The text you were reading is called a “blog post,” although you might have been confused because it is formatted as an article. Blog posts are personal statements and are written informally. Bloggers are afforded some latitude in grammar/spelling so long as the text is readable and the point comes across. The standards are similar to those applied to interoffice e-mail.

    Notice that you chose to make a number of grammar, usage and style errors in your response. So, you do recognize that the need for editing depends on the context (e.g., in your opinion comments to blog posts can be poorly written).

  • Is there a necessity for such a study? Can one not look within oneself from a third person perspective and come to these same conclusions? I have found that my reality is a dark place when there is darkness in my heart; It is a brilliant, gleaming stage of wonder and intrigue when I am content with my current situation. Once it is understood that all we see is a hologram of what is actually there to be seen, it is easier to understand how we can manipulate it to be a reflection of the stress and discomfort (or lack thereof) that we deal with internally. Your world is YOUR world.

  • However, the study suggests that this may be due to us having similar personalities which in the spirit of classic logical fallacies, I will attribute to literacy. 🙂

  • No, you know what the best bliss is @10zen, is being able to be self aware, and see the truth and the pain and all the true beauty in the world. And then to have the ability to pull yourself away from the concentrated ‘deep’ thoughts that everyone aspires to have. I am one of these brilliant people that is quite smart, and quite perceptive as far as energys and people. But I also have that wonderful taught ability to pull myself away from that and have fun and enjoy life with those so called “mostly…sucky” people.

  • Then, @Cynic you clearly are not bright enough to take the time to look past your inital judgement of others, and of your instant ‘Oh, they’re an idiot they couldn’t possibly have feelings and a depth of emotion and thought like me,’ this is the lamest illness I have come across. Seriously, all these half bright people, who are supposedly so self assured yet who look at even the every day passing person with a shut eye. Being smart and seeing things clearly isn’t all about see the hurt and the truth in the world, it’s about being able to find beauty in all of it…

  • It was hypothetical. Would it help if I rephrase? “What if a lot of people ONE encounters are objectively stone cold idiots?” Also, how is it that you seem to know so much about my cognitive processes? I’m impressed. As stated earlier I was emphasizing that correlation does not imply causation. You are certainly entitled to your assessment of how my mind functions and the beauty that I cannot seem to find in “all of it”, I’m simply curious as to how you arrived at this assessment.

  • “Maybe ignorance is bliss, and people who are negative perceivers are depressed because they’re seeing the truth. People who are surrounding them, mostly… suck.”

    Nail on the head. It’s easy to be a positive, happy person when you’ve led a pleasant life and/or you’re not bright enough to see the whole picture. I think history has shown over and over again that the most brilliant minds are often times the most miserable minds.

  • All it is showing is that people who are generally more happy, naturally perceive life around them in a more positive light…thereby adding to their happiness. Those who are less happy naturally see more negative in life…thereby adding to their unhappiness. (A negative person is the one to hurt first.) Preception is a natural and spontaneous phenomenon. We cannot just decide to perceive something positively, this takes and wastes too much energy each day. The change must come from within. The world is as you are, meaning, how you see life is a spontaneous result of your level of consciousness. There are infinite ways one could perceive each second each day, yet on can only appreciate life to the level of ones appreciating capacity. Red water can only make red waves. Like most scientific studies, its pretty obvious conclusion. Raise level of consciousness, expand appreciating capacity.

  • Woman use social networking as a spider web for navigating the people world. They will “say” the right things to fit in and think and use body language to indicate something else. Having woman self-survey about how they relate doesn’t seem to me to be a valid study. (Or am I just tired of catty women?)

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