Problems with perception. If you correctly assessment what someone should do but they arrive at an
erroneous conclusion of what action to take, you'll come up surprised. i.e. The liberal powers in WWII,
not realizing Hitler or Stalin viewed things from an entirely different perspective.
Cultural and ideological differences leading to people viewing other's potential decisions incorrectly.
When British intelligence looked at other nations, they would apply national
characteristics/stereotypes. “The French are excitable, have bad breath, the Germans are efficient...”
As a shorthand, used racism and stereotypes to determine national character. Question is how much
faith you pin on such assumptions. Racist thinking versus national characteristics. Rare to find western
decision makers, but more common to find German or Japanese decision makers who would say
“certain people behave in a certain way”.Assumptions on race, but above all, culture. Moving away
from a racially based assessment to one based on culture. Becomes easy to say: culture changes, and so
too can national characteristics change. Nazi outlook would have been “races exhibit traits
genetically”, rather than culturally. Racial or ethnocentric ideas.
Ethnocentrism is a universal human characteristic. “My people's way of doing things is the best way
and the universal solution to universal problems, therefore, the more other groups do things like us, the
better they are.” More significant or as important as racism in explaining how groups examine other's
organizations and judge them. How do you judge another's airforce? Look at how your own operates,
look for the same traits in the other's airforce – fewer traits in common, judge them to be increasingly
Preceding WWII, the Japanese gradually increased their airforce capabilities. By the late 1930s,
handful of British observers noted the Japanese were at the average level of a Western airforce.
Perceptions emerge out of ideology, combined with the way humans organize information. Highly
specific modes by which we organize data: an image. The image of an individual will very depending
on how you organize data. If you're a liberal, a socialist, the way you organize data will be different.
There is no single image that is ever applied to any one group of people. Image: think of a deck of
cards. If you're thinking ofAmericans, ten of those cards are ten different views of americans. One card
says formidable, one says vindictive, etc. At any time, one of these images/cards can come to the top to
replace another. In intelligence failures, this can be a related factor. Prevalent image of islamic
extremism and terrorism was of incompetency or bumbling – not the image that is prevalent now. There
is never one simple image, but several different ones that shift over time.
Theory of perceptions (Jervis) – drawn from psychological experiments in the 60s, repeated since. We
never look at the world blindly, we always look at it with perceptions. If we look at an entirely
new situation, we might have to come up with a new perceptual model, but for the most part we
already have one. Perceptual models are difficult to change. Perceptual frameworks are generally
dictated by our first experience we have when dealing with a category of behaviour, and what we're
taught to believe about how people act. Once locked into a series of perceptions, its difficult to change
that, and we interpret all incoming data with this perceptions. Can lead us to interpret data incorrectly.
Learning is possible, however.Analysts must be taught that when analyzing evidence and
understanding decision makers in a different country that they must account for their own perceptual
bias and find ways to discount it. Jervis and Hauer are in different ways translating academic psychology into a way for practitioners to deal with perceptual bias.
We are all prisoners of perception at an individual level, and at a group decision making level. Possible
to become an expert, someone who learns how specific events work, learning to under