Principles of Perception
William James American psychologist has said if we understand the world as it appears to us, it will be a big booming- buzzing confusion. Hence, we do not see the things as they appear, but we see them as we want, i.e. more meaningfully.
In perceptual process we select a particular stimulus with our attention and interpret it. In the same way whenever it is necessary many discrete stimuli in our visual field are organised into a form and perceived more meaningfully than they appear.
This phenomenon was well explained by Gestalt psychologists. They believed that the brain creates a coherent perceptual experience by perceiving a stimulus as a whole than perceiving discrete entities. This is more meaningfully stated in the gestalt principle as ‘the whole is better than sum total of its parts’. This is explained under many sub-principles of perception.
According to this principle any figure can be perceived more meaningfully in a background and that figure cannot be separated from that background. For example, letters written with a white chalk piece are perceived clearly in the background of a blackboard.
In the Figure, two faces can be seen in the background of a white colour. So also the white background can be perceived as a vessel in the background of two faces.
GROUPING OF STIMULI IN PERCEPTUAL ORGANIZATION
As said above, according to gestalt principle, the objects can be perceived meaningfully when they are grouped together. There are some principles which are followed by us in order to make our perception more meaningful.
They are as follows:
Proximity means nearness. The objects which are nearer to each other can be perceived meaningfully by grouping them. For example, the word ‘Man’, here though the letters are discrete, when grouped together gives some meaning. The stars in the Figure which are nearer to each other are perceived together as groups/single figure.
Stimuli need not be nearer to each other for perception. If there is similarity in these objects, they are grouped together and perceived, even if they are away. For example, in this Figure grouping will be done according to similarity, i.e. all circles, squares and triangles are grouped separately.
Any stimulus which extends in the same direction or shape will be perceived as a whole Figure A and B. For example, (A) in this figure though the curved line is broken, it is perceived as a continuous line, so also straight line is not seen with semicircles but as a continuous line (B) the dots are perceived as existing in the same line of direction continuously.
When a stimulus is presented with gaps, the human tendency is to perceive that figure as complete one by filling the gaps psychologically. For example, in the Figure, the gaps are filled psychologically and perceived as letters M and A, circle and a rectangle.
Objects which are having symmetrical shape are perceived as groups. For example, the brackets of different shapes shown in the Figure perceived meaningfully, because they are grouped together and perceived as brackets.
ERRORS OF PERCEPTION
- 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