Perceptions & Prototypes

During our conversation on perception, one of my favorite topics to discuss is prototypes, our ideal representations of different things. We use prototypes every day of our lives. Consider that ideal person (the celebrity we think is so “hot”), the ideal home (the one we compare other houses to), the ideal friend (how we wish our friend could be), or the perfect job (the one that would make all of our worries go away)…

All of these are just representatives of our ideal. We don’t necessarily like them when it happens.

  • That “perfect” celebrity who would make us forever in love with them may be dismissive of our needs, or may presume that we will give up anything and everything to encourage them in their career (not to mention the time & money they must spend to look “like that”)
  • The “just right” home may have many problems, including a lack of closets for our things, or a smaller back yard than we thought, or may have a leak we didn’t know about until later
  • The ideal friend may be great in theory, but when they constantly ask us for our opinion, we start to get frustrated by their need for our advice
  • The perfect job may not be a good fit for us–the boss may be too demanding, the coworkers hateful to us, or the workload different than we anticipated

All in all, prototypes are good–they help us to understand what we find important, significant, special, or powerful. However, it may also be that these prototypes may set up an unrealistic standard. This is why it’s important to understand that prototypes help us develop as humans, but they need to be kept in check.

What do you think? How can prototypes be good for us, or bad?

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