Perception is a process by which people regard, analyze, retrieve and react to any kind of information from the environment. For example, some people feel happy about earning money while others feel happy about spending money.
Perception may be defined as “a process of interpretation of a present stimulus on the basis of past experience”.
Perception is not as simple as said here. It is an integrated approach. It is a synthetic process where different physiological and psychological processes are involved. For example, the accuracy of sense organs, clarity of sensations, mental set of an individual, etc. Otherwise our perception may go wrong.
Process of Perception
- Reception: In this process, a person receives the information through stimuli.
- Selection: This is governed by two types of factors:
- External factors: These are size, intensity, proximity, motion and novelty.
- Internal factors: These are attitude, motives, experiences, interests and expectations.
- Organization: It is the process by which we sort stimuli into a meaningful pattern. It involves the following:
- Grouping: Assembling of stimuli on the grounds of similarity.
- Proximity: This is the closeness of stimuli to one another that affects perception.
- Closure: It is the ability to organize stimuli so that together they form a whole pattern.
- Interpretation: It is the formation of an idea about the information that is sensed, selected and organized. It involves the following phenomena: primacy effect, selective perception, stereotyping, halo effect, projection and expectancy effect. They are the types of perceptual errors.
- Primacy/ Recency Effect: The first impression is given the most important which is known as the primacy effect. Recency effect, on the other hand, is that human beings remember latest events more than the less recent ones.
- Stereotyping: It is the effect caused by forming a certain belief about a category of stimuli and generalizing that notion to encounters with each member of that category. In reality, there is a difference between the perceived notion of each category and the actual traits of the members. It may affect the interview process in an organization.
- Halo effect: It is the process of generalizing from a comprehensive analysis to a single attribute or trait. A negative halo effect is known as the reverse halo effect. It affects the performance appraisal of employees in a company.
- Projection: It is a psychological defence mechanism which makes a person compare his negative traits with other people and conclude that they are better off than others. Perceptual checking minimizes the negative effects of projection.
- Selective Perception: This means a person sees, feels or hears what he wants to and skips other information which are inconsistent to his view.
- Expectancy effect: It is the tendency of an individual to interpret any person or object based on how he expects the person or object to be in the first place. It is also called as Pygmalion effect.
Factors affecting Perception
The factors which affect the perception are shown in the figure below:
- Stereo Typing
“Making positive or negative generalizations about a group or category of people, usually based on inaccurate assumptions and beliefs and applying these generalizations to an individual member of the group.” For e.g. Girls are very talkative, Rich are cruel to poor.
- Halo Effect
Drawing general impression of individual on the basis of a single characteristic. I.e. if someone is good at one dimension, he/she is perceived to be good at other dimensions as well.
- Recency Effect
When the most RECENT information influences our judgment, even though we have a whole of other information on the Person.
- The Similar-to-Me Effect
We tend to favor/like or give favorable judgment to those who are similar to us. Example two candidates came along for interview, one from Delhi and the other from Bihar. As interviewer is from Delhi, he tends select to the candidate from Delhi, better evaluation.
- Fundamental Attribution Error
The tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal factors when making judgments about the behavior of others.
- Self-Serving Bias
The tendency for individuals to attribute their own successes to internal factors while putting the blame for failures on external factors.
- Self-fulfilling prophecy
People’s preconceived expectations and beliefs determine their behavior, thus, serving to make their expectations come true Example when a teacher, labeled a kid as stupid (because he has illegible handwriting). Soon the kid believed on teacher and behave like one.
- Perceptual defense
People tend to defend the way they perceive things. Once established, a person’s way of viewing the world may become highly resistant to change. Sometimes, perceptual defense may have negative consequences. This perceptual error can result in manager’s inability to perceive the need to be creative in solving problems. As a result, the individual simply proceeds as in the past even in the face of evidence that business as usual is not accomplishing anything worthwhile