Selective Perception, Common Perceptions of Colours

Selective perception is the tendency not to notice and more quickly forget stimuli that cause emotional discomfort and contradict our prior beliefs. For example, a teacher may have a favorite student because they are biased by in-group favoritism. The teacher ignores the student’s poor attainment. Conversely, they might not notice the progress of their least favorite student

Selective perception is the process by which individuals perceive what they want to in media messages while ignoring opposing viewpoints. It is a broad term to identify the behavior all people exhibit to tend to “see things” based on their particular frame of reference. It also describes how we categorize and interpret sensory information in a way that favors one category or interpretation over another. In other words, selective perception is a form of bias because we interpret information in a way that is congruent with our existing values and beliefs. Psychologists believe this process occurs automatically.

Selective perception may refer to any number of cognitive biases in psychology related to the way expectations affect perception. Human judgment and decision making is distorted by an array of cognitive, perceptual and motivational biases, and people tend not to recognise their own bias, though they tend to easily recognise (and even overestimate) the operation of bias in human judgment by others. One of the reasons this might occur might be because people are simply bombarded with too much stimuli every day to pay equal attention to everything, therefore, they pick and choose according to their own needs.

Selective perceptions are of two types

(1) Low level – Perceptual vigilance

(2) High level – Perceptual defense

Many marketers will already be aware that different colours have a different psychological impact on consumers. Over time, we have been hardwired to make certain neuro-associations with different colours. The impact of these influences is subtle, but effective and worth implementing. A number of commonly used colours are listed below, alongside their associations within a marketing context.

Red – known internationally as a buying colour. It reflects emotions such as anger, lust and passion and is a definite attention getter. When used in small amounts, it is the best colour to stimulate sales. However, if used in large amounts, it can turn off the more subtle customers. Red is best used to draw attention to a specific message or area you want the customer to focus on.

Orange – known to be the most irritating of colours and the least favourite colour in the world. Direct mail marketers tend to use this on envelopes to draw attention to a product they are selling. Orange is best known as the colour for sexuality and creativity and is associated with affordability. It’s also an attention grabber, but is best used sparingly or as an accent colour.

Purples and Violets – These colours are subjective, and people will either love them or hate them. Purple is associated with spiritual healing and royalty.

Blue – This was determined to be the best seller and people’s most favourite colour throughout the world, regardless of culture. Blue is considered the colour of communication; light blue leads to fantasy and dark blue leads to authority and power. Blue conjures up feelings of tranquillity, peacefulness and flights of fancy.

Green – This is a relaxing colour that stirs up feelings of the outdoors, forest, grass and lush meadows. It is considered a passive, not a stimulating colour.

Yellow – Is the first colour seen by the retina. This is a good focus, or attention-getting colour, and a good accent colour when used in moderation.

Brown – Denotes traditional or natural values. Light shades of wood are associated with affordability; dark hued shades are associated with opulence and richness. Brown is a relaxing and casual colour, the colour of wood, the earth and nature.

Neutrals – Black or white are always a safe and effective accent. They enhance primary colours when used as an accent, and when used exclusively, they give off an institutionalised or sterile feeling.

We can see from the above that Red and Blue are the two most prominent and internationally recognised colours to promote sales. As such, this makes a strong case for the use of each to highlight price discounts.

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