Consumer Perception: Perception Process & Involvement

Three important stages involved in perception process

(1) Perceptual Inputs

(2) Perceptual Mechanism

(3) Perceptual Outputs

(1) Perceptual Inputs

A number of stimuli are constantly confronting people in the form of information, objects, events, people etc. in the environment. These serve as the inputs of the perceptual process. A few of the stimuli affecting the senses are the noise of the air coolers, the sound of other people talking and moving, outside noises from the vehicular traffic or a street repair shop or a loud speaker playing somewhere plus the impact of the total environmental situation. Some stimuli do not affect the senses of a person consciously, a process called subliminal perception.

(2) Perceptual Mechanism

When a person receives information, he tries to process it through the following sub processes of selection, organisation and interpretation.

(A) Perceptual Selectivity

Many things are taking place in the environment simultaneously. However, one cannot pay equal attention to all these things, thus the need of perceptual selectivity. Perceptual selectivity refers to the tendency to select certain objects from the environment for attention. The objects which are selected are those which are relevant and appropriate for an individual or those which are consistent with our existing beliefs, values and needs. For this, we need to screen or filter out most of them so that we may deal with the important or relevant ones.

The following factors govern the selection of stimuli

(i) External Factors

(ii) Internal Factors

Various external and internal factors which affect our selection process are as explained below:

(i) External Factors

(a) Size:

The bigger the size of the stimulus, the higher is the probability that it is perceived. Size always attracts the attention, because it establishes dominance. The size may be the height or weight of an individual, sign board of a shop, or the space devoted to an advertisement in the newspaper. A very tall person will always stand out in the crowd on the other hand; a very short person will also attract attention. A full page advertisement will always catch attention as compared to a few lines in the classified section.

(b) Intensity

Intensity attracts to increase the selective perception. A few examples of intensity are yelling or whispering, very bright colours, very bright or very dim lights. Intensity will also include behavioural intensity. If the office order says “Report to the boss immediately,” it will be more intense and effective as compared to the office order which says “Make it convenient to meet the boss today.”

(c) Repetition

The repetition principle states that a repeated external stimulus is more attention drawing than a single one. Because of this principle, supervisors make it a point to give the necessary directions again and again to the workers. Similarly, the same advertisement or different advertisement but for the same product shown, again and again on the TV will have more attention as compared to an advertisement which is shown once a day.

(d) Status

High status people ran exerts greater influence on the perception of the employees than the low status people. There will always be different reactions to the orders given by the foreman, the supervisor or the production manager.

(e) Contrast

An object which contrasts with the surrounding environment is more likely to be noticed than the object which blends in the environment. For example, the Exit signs in the cinema halls which have red lettering on a black background are attention drawing or a warning sign in a factory, such as Danger, written in black against a red or yellow background will be easily noticeable. In a room if there are twenty men and one woman, the woman will be noticed first because of the contrast.

(f) Movement:

The principle of motion states that a moving object receives more attention than an object which is standing still. A moving car among the parked cars catches our attention faster. A flashing neon-sign is more easily noticed.

(g) Novelty and Familiarity:

This principle states that either a novel or a familiar external situation can serve as an attention getter. New objects in the familiar settings or familiar objects in new settings will draw the attention of the perceiver. A familiar face on a crowded railway platform will immediately catch attention. Because of this principle, the managers change the workers jobs from time to time, because it will increase the attention they give to their jobs.

(h) Nature

By nature we mean, whether the object is visual or auditory and whether it involves pictures, people or animals. It is well known that pictures attract more attention than words. Video attracts more attention than still pictures. A picture with human beings attracts more attention than a picture with animals.

(ii) Internal Factors

The internal factors relate to the perceiver. Perceiving people is very important for a manager, because behaviour occurs as a result of behaviour.

Following are the internal factors which affect perception:

  1. Learning

Although interrelated with other internal factors learning may play the single biggest role in developing perceptual set. A perceptual set is basically what a person expects from the stimuli on the basis of his learning and experience relative to same or similar stimuli. This perceptual set is also known as cognitive awareness by which the mind organizes information and forms images and compares them with previous exposures to similar stimuli. A number of illustrations have been used by psychologists to demonstrate the impact of learning on perception.

III. Perceptual Outputs

Perceptual outputs encompass all that results from the throughout process. These would include such factors as one’s attitudes, opinions, feelings, values and behaviours resulting from the perceptual inputs and throughputs. Perceptual errors adversely affect the perceptual outputs. The lesser our biases in perception, the better our chances of perceiving reality as it exists or at least perceiving situations with the minimum amount of distortions.

This will help us to form the right attitudes and engage in appropriate behavioural patterns, which in turn will be beneficial for attaining the desired organisational outcomes. It is essentially important for managers who are responsible for organisational results to enhance their skills in order to develop the right attitudes and behaviours.

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