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Perceptions, Biases, and Misheard Song Lyrics

A mishearing of song lyrics is one fun aspect of perception. Scientists associate such deviations with humans’ attitudes, ideas, and ways of thinking, which constitute an individual perceptual set. Thinking of times when I witnessed such misperception, I recall the song “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, which became popular at the height of the lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement. When the singer sang the chorus, the words “All you ever did was wre-e-eck me”, I heard the lyrics “was ra-a-a-pe me”. On the one hand, it is a disputable point if this particular misheard lyric could unintentional or implied by Miley since the singer supported the campaign. On the other hand, the song’s video footage could give another hint of misperception. Besides, I could be impacted by the unprecedented amount of facts about violence against women that came to light.

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In the modern world, there is a vast number of biases against women. Interestingly, Perez (2019) notes that today there are still tons of design inconveniences women face daily, let alone the fairness in relations, like unfair wages and lack of social recognition. Forming biases can become even more complicated after people incorporate them into their identities (Chugh, 2018). The perceptual set can lead to biases against a person, place, thing, or even become a tradition.

These may be unconscious biases: for example, one may dread one’s birthday because so many people think they must congratulate you, and then comes the problem of arranging the party. Maybe this person would prefer to eat the whole cake alone while watching TV, but it is never going to happen due to people’s bias. Other examples are conscious biases that can be more painful, like forcing women to give birth or excluding dads from raising children.

Biases against a person may include microaggression acts, for example, asking people of color, “So, where are you from?” Biases against place may be thinking that all Parisians are poets or that all Californians are celebrities. Less favorable examples may include fear of visiting some sites, perceived as dangerous, for example, dentists’ cabinets. Biased things can be headscarves as a symbol of obedience and orthodoxy or short skirts as a symbol of readiness for sex. Thus, biases make people’s lives even more complicated, and getting rid of bias may include remastering the perceptual sets and attitudes.


Dwyer, J. I. (2018). The person you mean to be: How good people fight bias. Harper Business.

Perez, C. C. (2019). Invisible women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men. Random House.

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