What is Public Perception?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2020
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The social phenomenon known as public perception can be seen as the difference between an absolute truth based on facts and a virtual truth shaped by popular opinion, media coverage and/or reputation. Celebrities, politicians and corporations all face the same scrutiny by the public they serve, and it can be very difficult to overcome a negative perception by the public. While individual companies may strive to do the right things for the right reasons, how the public views the industry as a whole can make those things much more challenging to put into motion.

The public perception of the tobacco industry, for example, is generally negative. From published reports on the hazards of cigarette smoke to televised images of tobacco company executives facing congressional scrutiny, perception suggests that tobacco company owners favor profits over public safety, and they would be unwilling to stop producing such hazardous products. This image may be based on an absolutely accurate assessment of the industry, or it may be based on biased media reports and faulty scientific studies. The bottom line is that a negative public perception would make it more difficult for individual tobacco companies to improve their image or make substantial changes.

Political figures must also consider public perception while campaigning for office. During the 2008 US presidential election campaign, for example, both candidates faced difficult image issues. The Republican candidate, John McCain, was often portrayed by media outlets as being too old for the position or too moderate politically to represent his entire political party. Democratic candidate Barack Obama was often portrayed as an Ivy League elitist or too ineffectual to e commander in chief. Both men used public speeches and media interviews to overcome much of the negative perception.

Public perception is not necessarily inaccurate or based on something other than the truth. The public at large can often receive enough factual information in order to form a general opinion about a public figure, celebrity or industry without relying on innuendo or unfounded rumors. There can be instances, however, when the perception of a situation is affected by other issues, such as cultural bias or prejudice. A defendant accused of a heinous criminal act may or may not be guilty of the actual crime, but perception of that type of crime can be difficult for a jury to ignore while deliberating.

Some situations can be compounded by their negative effect on public perception. For example, the revelation that a number of professional baseball players had used illegal performance-enhancement substances angered many fans, but also challenged the public image of baseball as a relatively drug-free sport. Public perception of a given situation can be unrealistically positive or negative, which can become problematic whenever the true facts emerge and corrective action must be taken. This is why many people feel very conflicted when a perceived good person is accused of a crime or a perceived bad industry is not penalized for its actions.

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Post 4

Bhutan-I think that the public perception of the government and government agencies is very negative.

Obama has an approval rating of 40% and some feel that that number is actually lower. The perception is negative because his socialist agenda does not sit well with the American people.

In fact, 70% of Americans are opposed to this bill and Obama is fighting tooth and nail to keep this destructive law on the books.

What also outrages many Americans is that he and his family along with members of congress are exempt from this bill.

Most Americans feel that we will need a new president in order to get our country back on the right track because most

people’s perception of Obama is negative because he goes against the will of the people.

Schools that are Public also have a very negative perception because many find our school system ineffectual and trailing behind other developed countries.

For example, the United States ranks 21st in the world in Math which is really sad and many believe the inefficiencies in our school system, the lack of true academic rigor, and the teachers union have all contributed to the US marketed decline in academic standards.

Post 3

Moldova-I saw that movie and you are right. I was so angry at the end of it.

I also think that there is a public perception of biotechnology companies that might be mixed.

On the one hand a section part of the population might hate these pharmaceutical companies because the prices of their drugs are so high and people feel helpless because they need these drugs to survive.

Another section of the population might actually feel a sense of gratitude toward these companies because their research has improved the quality of life for many people and it has even allowed people to overcome fatal conditions that they otherwise would have not been able to overcome.


think that it requires a lot of money to perform research on a drug and the amount can even be one billion dollars in some cases and some of these drugs never reach the market.

In addition, these companies also have to worry about litigation because although when the FDA approves a drug it is usually safe there are a small percentage that might have an adverse reaction and sue.

I feel that tort reform would lower the costs of pharmaceutical drugs significantly.

Post 2

BrickBack-I know that the tobacco industry has a very negative perception because everyone knows that cigarettes are directly linked to lung cancer, emphysema and other forms of cancer.

The movie, “The Insider” with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino really raises the level of negative public perception among the tobacco industry.

It is an account of a whistle blower played by Russell Crowe who could not pretend that cigarettes were not harmful anymore.

This movie shows how the cigarette company executives knew the dangers of cigarette smoking but the profits were so large that they did not care.

If you don’t have a negative perception of the tobacco industry, you sure will after seeing that movie.

Post 1

Public perception is very relevant and can shaped public policies and even jury outcomes.

For example, the public perception of celebrity OJ Simpson is predominately negative because many felt that he got away with murder literally when he was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend.

As a result, many believe that they threw the book at him in his last case because the public perception that the jury had was so negative and they really wanted him to pay for what they felt he did in the past.

Although the jury is supposed to judge the case on its merits OJ Simpson's public perception was so tarnished that most of the general public was actually satisfied that he got such a long prison sentence.

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