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A PERSON'S PERCEPTION OF DIETING IS INFLUENCED BY HOW HE VIEWS HIMSELF

by demiguin


I.  Introduction

Purpose of the Study

1)     Explain how people are able to perceive their selves.

2)     State factors why people perceive things differently.

3)     Explain how people build perception about other things based on their view of their selves.

4)     Explain briefly what is dieting.

5)     Explain how dieting is perceived by people.

6)     Explain how people’s perception of their selves affect their perception of dieting.  

Discussion:

(1) Perception can be considered as an overused term.  If for example, two people do not agree on something, probably the best way to solve the problem without having a bloody debate is to simply say: “everybody is entitled to their own opinion, it’s simply a matter of perspective” If we are lucky enough, things will end there and most of the time, we cannot argue a person’s perspective. This is because perception is something subjective.

We will not, however, go deeply into the discussion of the subjectivity of perception but rather focus on how it is formed.  And then integrate what we would learn (about perception) with what we would learn about dieting.  They may seem to be two extremely different things, well, they are.  But the thing is, dieting is often misunderstood and the formation of wrong perception and misconceptions about is rampant.

(2) Here’s a proof, count the number of times you have encountered the term: common misconceptions about dieting.  And another is that most, if not all, of the books about dieting has portion about wrong conceptions about dieting.  But if only we had the time and patience to compare every book and resource on the internet, we would find out that most of these “common misconceptions” would simply cancel each other out.  Meaning, other sources would say that something is a good thing and some would say it is not.

The paragraph numbered (1) is an example of variation in the perception of individuals about the things around them, including their selves.  And the paragraph numbered (2) is an example of variation in the perception of dieting.  We will try to prove that these two things are related.


 

 Significance of the Topic

           The result of this study hopes to benefit the following:

The students.  This may serve as a good basis for students in understanding perception and knowing its importance in our daily lives.  This also hopes that students will have a reference into identifying proper diet and knowing its beneficial effects to our health.

The teachers.  This serve as a guide in helping students understand perception better and help students broaden their knowledge about dieting.

The researchers.  This provide valuable information for other researchers intended to investigate topics related to the problems in this study.  

 


 

Definition of Relevant Terms

Stimulià An agent, action, or condition that elicits or accelerates a physiological or                psychological activity or response

Sensationà A perception associated with stimulation of a sense organ or with a specific body condition

Thresholdà The point that must be exceeded to begin producing a given effect or result or to elicit a response

Perceptionà a) Recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly on memory

                        b) The neurological processes by which such recognition and interpretation are effected

Self-Imageà  The conception that one has of oneself, including an assessment of qualities and personal worth

Self-Worthà  Self-esteem, self-respect

Self-Hoodà   a) The state of having a distinct identity, individuality

                      b) The fully develop self, an achieved personality

Self-Perceptionà  An awareness of the characteristics that constitute one’s self, self-knowledge

Dietingà  To eat or drink according to a regulated system, especially so as to lose weight or to control a medical condition


 II.  Supporting Evidences

A. Physiological Evidences

1) Perception Per Se

          All our sense organs, unless defective, send information to the central nervous system where it is coordinated and used.  Because we are not conscious that this is going on, we are able to concentrate on meeting the whole situation that we are confronted with.  For example, in learning the gustatory sense, we take note of how odors, temperature, etc. affect what we call taste.  This is a good example of the correlation of our senses.  When we coordinate the working of all our senses, we perceive data.

(Source: General Psychology With Value Development Lessons)

2) Perception About Dieting

          a) In a dietician’s perspective, a good diet includes the following:

-         a diet that is low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol

-         a diet that is rich in healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and grain products

-         using sugar in moderation

-         using sodium in moderation

-         if a person drinks alcoholic beverages, drinking in moderation would be good

-         eating a variety of foods to meet the nutritional requirements a person needs

Ms. Lorenzo said that foods that opposite of those on the list are considered as foods for bad diets.

(Source: Ms. Maritess Singh Lorenzo, Dietician, FEU-NRMF Medical Center)

b) In another dietician’s perspective, in order to have a good diet, we must :

-         Have a variety of foods to ensure a well-balanced diet (Japanese people said that eating 30 or more varieties of food a day will keep them healthy and maintain a healthy weight

-         There must be an adequate intake of carbohydrates which are rich in fibers

-         Aim to reduce fat intake and avoid too much fried foods which could lead to obesity

-         Learn to reduce intake of sugar which could also lead to obesity

-         Try to increase rice, cereal and starchy vegetables in the diet

-         Consume less salt since it is proven to increase blood pressure

(Source: Rekha Naidu, consultant Dietician for Philippines Health Today)

“… the usual misconception about dieting is eliminating or eating less carbohydrate rich food on their diet and doing excessive exercise without even knowing their Regular Dietary Allowance (RDA) per day.  That is why they are having a hard time reaching their Ideal Body Weight (IBW).
(Source: Ms. Maritess Singh Lorenzo, Dietician, FEU-NRMF Medical Center)

“…dieting is taking foods according to a regimen, either prescribed, regulated or restricted in kind or amount for therapeutic or other purposes.”
(Source: Ms. Maritess Singh Lorenzo, Dietician, FEU-NRMF Medical Center)
  

“It’s silly to focus too much on single foods.  We don’t eat one food.  We eat mixtures of foods and need to in order to get the full spectrum of nutrients and protective factors in them.  We have lots to learn about the foods that nourish and heal our bodies, but we have a responsibility to select foods with our brains as well as our taste buds.  The old saying is true—you are what you eat.  And you have to make that choice everyday”(Herbert Pierson, nutrition researcher)
(Source:Lowell Ponte, Reader’s Digest)

 “One of the most popular misconceptions about dieting is that you will lose weight solely by dieting and performing cardiovascular exercises such as running, walking and biking.  According to Rebecca Robertson, a certified personal trainer at Sculpt Fitness, that is simply untrue.  It takes an integration of light cardiovascular exercises, resistance training and a healthy balanced way of eating.”
(Source:http://www.ahherald.com/health/tyh_010607_fitness_misconceptions.htm)

3) Perception of One’s Self Affects His Perception of Dieting

“…I believe in the saying ‘You are what you eat.’ If you eat too much, you will be fat and if you eat too little, you will be thin.  And if you eat too much salt, you will have implications on your kidneys and if you eat too much sugar, you will also get sick later on because of diabetes.  This is the same with heart problems like CUDs and hypertension.  These persons probably ate the wrong diet when they were younger.  So, diet is really influenced by how a person views himself.”
(Source: Ms. Maritess Singh Lorenzo, Dietician, FEU-NRMF Medical Center)

B. Psychological Evidences

1) Perception Per Se:

Perception is defined as an interpretation of a sensation.  And in order to sense something through our sense organs (i.e. eyes, ears, nose), there must be a stimulus.  Perception therefore can also be defined as the giving of meaning to a stimulus received by one of the senses.  
(Source: Introduction to Psychology)

          Sensation plays a big role in perception.  Without sensation, there might as well be no perception because there is nothing to perceive.  There are two important factors to consider in having a normal perception.  (1) The nervous system and the sense organ must be in excellent condition. (2) A stimulus must be above the threshold, either absolute or difference threshold.  Threshold is the transitional point at which an increasing difference not previously perceived becomes perceptible or vice versa.  The failure to meet one or both of the said criteria can lead to the non-formation of perception or to the formation of a distorted perception.
(Source: Introduction to Psychology)

2) Factors affecting Perception:

Perception is bipolar.  It involves the interaction of the perceiver with a stimulus.  (Source: Introduction to Psychology)

 “…perception is brought about by the two N’s --Nature and Nurture.”  Nature being the environment that the person grew up with and nurture being the way he was brought up by his parents or family. 
(Source: Ms. Rhodora Corpuz, Guidance Counselor of the Institute of Medicine in Far Eastern University)

The following are just some of the factors that affect perception:

a)      Stimulus Characteristics (external factors)- intensity, contrast, continuity, closure, movement, change, perceptual grouping, figure-ground relationships and visual illusions.

a.     These factors are brought about and made up of all the many things in the world that affect us directly (just like food and shelter).  This also includes all the things that stimulate our senses

b)      Characteristics of Perceiver (internal cues)- motivation, past experiences, physical characteristics, mental set, interests and attitudes, and attention.

a.     This conveys the subjectivity of perception (i.e. why a person sees something as good and another person does not)

b.     This includes appearance, behavior, cultural stereotypes, cultural values, role changes and personal experiences. 

c)      Social factors- culture and society and social suggestion

a.     This includes all the human beings who in a way influence us.  Some people influence us through direct contact (i.e. friends, families, schoolmates, enemies, etc.)  And others influence us indirectly through the radio, television, the internet, etc.  These things exist because as a human being, we must learn to live in the world and cope with the constraints of life.

b.     This also includes taking in consideration what other people think.  Their thoughts, feelings and expectations are considered by some as extremely important and relevant to their formation of perception.

(Source:  Introduction to Psychology and General Psychology With Value Development Lessons)

3) Organization of Perception

Perception can be distinguished from sensation in a sense that sensation is the first and immediate awareness of something, which more or less corresponds to the energy stimulation patterns.  Sensation does not necessarily need much organization compared to that of perception.  Perception is also more dependent on learning, and requires more time for completion than that of sensation.
(Source: http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/organize.html)

4) Perception About One’s Self

          It is said that we are aware of ourselves chiefly in two ways, (1) selfhood and (2) self-perception

The first one talks about the immediate experience of the being, wherein a person feels, thinks, acts, etc.

The second one talks about clear thoughts and ideas about ourselves, which is indirect perception.  This is what we think about ourselves.  It is this second kind of awareness that builds up self-images, that is different from each person because of many interlaying elements like those mentioned earlier.

Three factors to consider in the formation of self-image:

a) Physical Aspects of the Self- this is the tangible level of the body.  A person’s self image is somehow bound up with his physical appearance as they feel or think it to be.  Self-image does not always have a neutral or correct reflection of one’s attributes. 

A person may feel that he is unattractive and fat even though this is not in accordance to the judgment of other people.  A person who does not like his body shape can undergo liposuction.  Although he would look thinner and significantly better, this does not necessarily mean that he will perceive himself as someone who is attractive and has a shapely body.

b) Social Aspects of the Self- majority of the mental life concerning selfhood, identity and personality are derived from other people’s thoughts.  In relation to the world, the self is defined in terms of society and it means that our personal identity depends for all worldly purposes to a large extent upon how other people define us. 

There is no clear line that separates the physical and social basis of self-image.  For example, to other cultures, like the people in Burma, they see elongated necks (of the woman) to be a sign of beauty.  The longer the woman’s neck is, the lovelier she is.  While in other cultures, like those we have now, we could see the women of Burma as a pitiable case.  Some may see it as a sever form of mutilation.

c) Universal Self and Self-Image- this is the authentic aspect of personality.  This is the true selfhood or identity.  The overall self-image may be a more or less authentic reflection of the original, this very true especially when there are no outside elements that could affect the formation of the authentic self-image.
(Source:  http://home.no.net/rrpriddy/P19selfperc.html)

 “…people view themselves in different levels and in different aspects.  Some view themselves based on their strengths or weaknesses.  Some view themselves based on what they are capable of doing and what they are not.  Other people perceive their selves based on what they can give and of those things they cannot.  These things may be of physical, intellectual, social or spiritual nature and some people regard themselves of what others think they are and what they expect them to be.”
(Source: Ms. Rhodora Corpuz, Guidance Counselor of the Institute of Medicine in Far Eastern University)

5) Variation in Perception

Perception is bipolar in nature.  This nature of perception may explain why people differ in their perception of an object or an idea.  Subjectivity may characterize one’s perception, as it is a product of his past experiences
(Source: Introduction to Psychology)


6) Self-Perception and Perception of External Objects

 “ …if a person’s self-worth is based on how he can be productive in his work, there is a tendency for this person to base his appreciation of things around him on what he can do and on the things he is most familiar with.”
(Source: Ms. Rhodora Corpuz, Guidance Counselor of the Institute of Medicine in Far Eastern University)

7) Perception of One’s Self Affects His Perception of Dieting

          “…Dieting is not only a means to measure one’s self or regard one’s self physically.  But it also suggests a feeling of being healthy inside and out.  This includes that we feel motivated to diet despite the factors that may influence us externally.” 
(Source: Ms. Rhodora Corpuz, Guidance Counselor of the Institute of Medicine in Far Eastern University)

III.  Contrasting Evidences

A. Physiological Evidences

1) Conceptions About Dieting
         
“Dieticians are telling us that we should eat more carbohydrates and less fats.  That’s the worst advice you’ve ever had in your life.  If you listen to them, you will surely die of heart disease and at least get one or more chronic diseases.”

(Source: http://www.newtreatments.org/diet.php)

B. Psychological Evidences

1) Extrasensory Perception

This includes Telepathy, Precognition, Clairvoyance and Psychokinesis – all of which does not require sensation.
(Source: Introduction to Psychology)

IV.  Conclusion

·        It all begins with a stimulus.  The stimulus reaches the threshold needed for it to be noticed by the senses.  When this happens and the stimulus has been felt, there is sensation.  Sensation is the immediate awareness of something.  The sensations are then organized, taking a little more time than coming up with a sensation, and a perception is formed.  (There are cases wherein Sensation is not necessary in the formation of a perception.  But this is still a highly debatable topic.)  To put it simply, perception is the understanding of a thing by an individual.

·        Perception is generally brought about by two N’s—Nature and Nurture.  Other factors include: (1)Stimulus Characteristics—external factors (2) Characteristic of Perceiver—internal cues (3) Social Factors—people that influence us.

·        There are mainly two ways that we perceive ourselves:

(1) The first one is selfhood which is the immediate experience such as seeing, hearing, etc.

(2) The second is self-perception.  This is generally how we see or perceive ourselves to be.  This leads to the formation of a self-image.

·        Self-image involves three things:

(1) Physical aspect of the self—involves just the outside appearance of the person and how that person sees himself.

(2) Social aspect of self—this is where a person takes into account the comments and thoughts of other people.

(3) Universal aspect of self—this is the actuality of ourselves.  How and what we really are like.

·        Considering the elements above, we can conclude that there are far too many factors to be considered by different individuals in forming a perception.  This means that the probability of having different perceptions about a single thing is very high.

·        Dieting is taking in foods according to a regimen.  Dieting can either be good or bad.

·        Considering the aforementioned concepts about perception, we can conclude that like everything else, dieting can be perceived differently.  We should also take into consideration the factors affecting the formation of perception especially the reason for the subjectivity of a perception.

The argument:  A Person’s Perception of Dieting is Influenced by How He View Himself

The question:  Do we agree?

The answer:  Yes.

The reason:  Aside from the fact that both Ms. Corpuz and Ms. Lorenzo agreed with the argument, we have sufficient evidence to conclude that indeed, a person’s perception of himself can influence his perception of dieting (actually, his self-perception can influence his perception of other things)

          “ …if a person’s self-worth is based on how he can be productive in his work, there is a tendency for this person to base his appreciation of things around him on what he can do and on the things he is most familiar with.”

          This was quoted earlier from Ms. Corpuz.  This statement entails a suggestion that people tend to have a basis for the things they do.  In this case a person’s productivity in work was used as an example.  It says that people more or less base their appreciation on the things they are most familiar with.  And we cannot be more familiar about anything else than ourselves.

          A person’s perception of dieting is inflicted upon by how he views himself.  If a person views himself as a fat or overweight person, chances are his type of dieting is prone to eating more whereas a slim person’s dieting habit may have a bigger chance of being watchful of what he eats.  Of course, this is not always the case.  Things are always subject to change, fat people can lose weight and thin people are of course not exempted from gaining weight. 

 

V.  Implications

As teenagers and students, we are naturally curious.  We are in a constant search of the truth.  Perception is important in our search of the truth.  This is how we would understand, and this is how we would learn.  However, not everything we perceive is the truth.  Even if sometimes, it seems like they are.  It is important to take into consideration different factors before even considering something as “possibly true”.  Take into account, the external, internal, and social factors of an object. Do not just rely on one element.  For example, because of social pressure, we could perceive ourselves to be fat even though we are perfectly healthy.  This is probably just one of the reasons why many youths develop distorted perceptions.  Not because of any physical abnormality but simply because of external elements such as social pressure and the circulation of false information.

As an effective and efficient member of the society, we must learn to convey the truth.  We must learn to support each other.  And we must understand that we are one of the great factors that affect other people’s perception of things.  Although social factor is just one of the factors in the formation of a perception, it is still a factor.  Which means no matter how small it is, it would still have its effect nonetheless.

Bibliography

A.  Books:

Bustos, Alicia et. al.  Introduction to Psychology. 3rd ed. Quezon City: Katha Publishing

          Co., Inc. 1999.

Sevilla, Consuelo et. al.  General Psychology With Value Development Lessons. 

Quezon City:  Rex Printing Company Inc. 1988

 

B.  Periodicals

Naidu, Rekha.  “Street Foods- How Healthy Are They?” Philippines Health

          Today. Vol 3 No. 3.  1997

Ponte, Lowell.  “Foods That Help You Live Longer” Reader’s Digest. August 1993

 

C. Online Sources

http://home.no.net/rrpriddy/P19selfperc.html

http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/organize.html

http://www.ahherald.com/health/tyh_010607_fitness_misconceptions.htm  

http://www.newtreatments.org/diet.php

D.  Others

Ms. Rhodora Corpuz, Guidance Counselor of the Institute of Medicine in Far Eastern University

Ms. Maritess Singh Lorenzo, Dietician, FEU-NRMF Medical Center


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