Understanding why pre-conceived notions are very dangerous in any society

Pre-conceived notions are beliefs or attitudes we have about individuals, groups and even an entire society. These are sometimes based on what we hear or see from individual experiences. They are hence based on perceptions. Some dangers of such pre-conceived notions are sought to be discusses in some detail in this article.


How do we form opinions and attitudes about other people? Normally, even without meeting some person we would have formed some opinion, based on some information about him or her, based on second-hand information from friends, relatives or even neighbors. Only when we actually get to see him or her, we understand that we had made a big mistake. This is exactly what we call a pre-conceived notion. Such notions can have disastrous consequences for our own relationships about the person or group of people. Or even about a society. Pre-conceived notions are very dangerous. They particularly limit a) Limit Our broad-mindedness about thought and action b) Drive us into a shell from which escape becomes difficult c) Limits our good qualities d) Limits our creativity and e) Has a potential to take things to point of no return.

Limit our broad-mindedness about thought and action

Being broad-minded simply means that we allow our mind to be open to any observation about any aspect of reality. Such open-mindedness never limits our thought. This is precisely why most clashes between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law are becoming far less in urban areas. This is all the more so since the elder woman is conditioned through her own experiences at work if she is employed. This makes her far more disciplined and far more open to any sort of response from her own daughter-in-law. She would even keep quiet and counsel the young woman later, rather than reacting when the former loses her cool. The young lady also begins to understand and appreciate realities far better. Such broad-mindedness, as a rule, would help a great deal in normal times. However, when our mind is conditioned to pre-conceived notions about people, this broad-mindedness does not allow any scope for good thought. For instance, hundreds of Hindiwallahs imagine and still think that most Tamilians are very rude and arrogant since they do not know Hindi. Or because they refuse to learn the language. When they try to talk to someone in Hindi, they are immediately angry that the response is very poor. However, when those who are intelligent and attempt to speak even broken English, even auto drivers understand and offer to help. Immediately, their perceptions change for the better. Those who attempt to go local and try to learn the basics of Tamil, become very unique and are immediately accepted and respected. The mutual admiration for different customs gives way to a larger appreciation of all good human qualities on either side. Everything is thereafter milk and honey. This is the exact process of attitudinal transformation, widely reported in Quota and interested readers may go through reports of a very large number of good experiences of North Indians in Chennai, Coimbatore and other cities of Tamil Nadu. Such good experiences have always happened when the individuals have literally thrown away their pre-conceived notions. In every case, they have never attempted to impose the Hindi language. On the contrary, they have found that some attempt is made to understand Hindi by the locals after the initial rapport has been built. This is exactly what should happen. Those who speak Hindi very well are those South Indians who have settled in any place North of the Vindhyas. This is because they are put to "no choice" situations.

Drive us into a shell from which escape becomes difficult

This is a big problem. When we fall into a set pattern of thinking, it becomes very difficult to come out of it. If we start to rub shoulders with others who share similar thought patterns, it becomes even more difficult. We do not have any escape route and we are destined to simply either keep doing the same mistakes again and again or completely withdraw when the going becomes very hot. This author has seen the latter happening in some cases, and the individual simply becomes a person that most group members love to hate. They are basically selfish characters, who do not see beyond selfish self-interests at any point in time. This streak, when combined with their basic tendency to have pre-conceived notions makes it very difficult for them to come out of their shell.

Limits our good qualities

The dangerous propaganda unleashed by sections of the ruling party at the center about the insecurity of the majority community of India, which is never based on facts, has made the social fabric very difficult. Pre-conceived notions about the minorities now abound in the minds of hundreds of thousands of people belonging to the majority community. The narrative is even becoming very personal and the work of the armed forces is sought to be exploited for political gains in the garb of "nationalism". Consequently, pre-conceived notions limit all our good qualities of tolerance, compassion for the poor and so on. All that we can do is to not fall prey to such dangerous propaganda.

Limits our creativity

This is another issue which is actually more complex than what it appears to be. All of us have creative potential. This is exactly what the experts have talked about as "left brain work". Even on mundane matters, we can always find out creative answers to complex questions. The ability to look for various alternatives is one such. It works on the simplest of matters. Quite some time ago, when the rate war was on in the skies and the airlines came out with different attractive packs, one family that were not able to get the Second AC class ticket by the Navagivan Express, were surprised to find that one particular airline had announced a big cut in the airfare between Chennai and Ahmedabad. A good friend of the breadwinner, a banker, had suggested this alternative. This friend was always one who looked for solutions to any problems. He would jell with anyone from anywhere, irrespective of caste or creed or religion or whatever. This is exactly what can happen when we get good advice and help. It so happened that this gentleman immediately helped to book the six tickets online immediately. It is always seen that only when we are open minded and have our free mind to think on any issue, we become creative.

Has the potential to take things to point of no return

Even the mightiest of powers, namely the USA suffers from a rather pre-conceived notion that the outsourcing of jobs has made life difficult for native Americans. This is far from the truth, as the real brain power has come from all over the world. The nation called the USA is successful only because of the fact that it has always been the greatest open society in the world. Today, one individual's pre-conceived notion is playing havoc with the entire social fabric of the country and has international repercussions as well. At individual levels, even without the knowledge of the individual, he or she would have gone too far and there is no point of return. This is very unfortunate and should be avoided.


No individual, group or society can even prosper even to the minimum extent there were to be too many pre-conceived notions. The reality of any event, or happening or the simplest of things about people are totally different from what we hear from others. Let not pre-conceived notions
destroy all the good things in human beings, anywhere in the world.

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Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao26 May 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

Preconceived ideas will take us far away from the truth. When we approach a problem with a preconceived notion our thinking will be always to prove that our thought is correct. It will lead us to wrong interpretations. So a wise person will always approach a problem with an open mind.
Even in many organisations when there is a problem the brainstorming sessions will be organised. Even in these sessions some senior people participate with some predetermined solutions and drive the discussions in those directions. That will make the discussions futile and wrong decisions will be taken.
When we go into solving a problem we have to go with an open mind. We should discuss and think openly. Then only we can make reasonable and proper decisions.

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