Appraising the Situation

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BY SIMONE SMITH

I realize more and more that the way you react to a situation really does determine its outcome. When things happen in our lives, many of us react unconsciously; unaware as to why we have reacted the way that we have reacted. We learn how to interact with others vicariously and through trial and error. We take lessons from our parents, our friends and people who we are in relationships with. We tend to look at situations through our own narrow view that has been shaped by our experiences. What is important for us is to learn how we appraise situations.

Appraisal is defined as an act of assessing someone or something. We try to figure out something about this person. We may use physical aspects of the person such as how they look, what they are wearing or material aspects which could include the car they are driving. Appraisal in a way is like a judgment that we make. It allows us to decide exactly what to do at that moment with the situation placed in front of us. This article will discuss the types of appraisals that are made and how these appraisals are beneficial to our daily living.

The very first type of appraisal is called Primary appraisal. This is when we look at the type of situation that we are dealing with, is it neutral, beneficial, or harmful to us (Wong, 2013). Let us use dating as a running example. So you are going on that first date. Obviously there are things that you are going to note the moment you meet that person. If the person shows up dressed in a way that we find inappropriate or if they have this vibe that we don’t like, we might be reluctant in going forward with the date. It is why many first dates happen in a social setting. This way we can make our assessment and decide if we either want to continue to date this person or not. This stage is important for us. It provides us that opportunity to tap into our instincts, decide if this is what we want or not.

Secondary appraisal allows us to assess if we can control the situation, if it is controllable by others or if it is beyond human control (Wong, 2013). Let’s go back to this date. You are there and you like the person. They look nice, you are able to check off all the boxes on your checklist and you are actually having a great time. Now comes the hard part. Is this something that I really want to get into? We may begin to think about our feelings. Could I love this person? Could this person fall in love with me? Is this person destined for me? Have we met for a larger purpose? We may not all go through this list of questions, but naturally we begin to ask certain questions that help us make sense of what we are feeling or thinking.

Finally, there is reappraisal. This usually occurs after the date is done. How did this date go for me? How did this date go for them? I wonder if I am going to see the person again. I wonder if they want to do this again. Who would have thought that we think this much in a situation? We are a very complex species, but this type of appraisal also occurs in the wild. Animals have to appraise the safety of situations before they enter it as well. If it is not safe, they have been provided with self defense mechanisms to protect them.

Now that I have made you aware of appraisal, I want you to start looking at how we appraise situations. Are we doing it in a way that will protect us? Are we doing it at all? How can you start making appraisals that will protect you on this earth? Ask, my friends!

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