Unformatted text preview: Perception Perception
People perceive things differently.
We choose to select different aspects of a message to focus our attention based on what interests us, what is familiar to us, or
what we consider important.
Perception refers to the set of processes we use to make sense of all the stimuli you encounter every second, from the glow of
the computer screen in front of you to the smell of the room to the itch on your ankle. Our perceptions are based on how we
interpret all these different sensations, which are sensory impressions we get from the stimuli in the world around us.
Perception enables us to navigate the world and to make decisions about everything, from which T-shirt to wear or how fast to
run away from a bear. Rubin’s Vase
● ● ● ● First we select the item to attend to and block out
most of everything else. It’s our brain’s way of
focusing on the task at hand to give it our attention.
In this case, we have chosen to attend to the image.
Then, we organize the elements in our brain. Some
individuals organize the dark parts of the image as
the foreground and the light parts as the background,
while others have the opposite interpretation.
Some individuals see a vase because they attend to
the black part of the image, while some individuals
see two faces because they attend to the white parts
of the image.
Most people can see both, but only one at a time,
depending on the processes described above. All
stages of the perception process often happen
unconsciously and in less than a second. What is perception ?
Perception is the organization, identiﬁcation, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and
understand the environment.
According to Joseph Reitz; “Perception includes all those processes by which an individual receives information
about his environment—seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling.”
According to B. V. H. Gilmer, “Perception is the process of becoming aware of situations, of adding meaningful
associations to sensations.”
Uday Pareek said perception can be deﬁned as “the process of receiving, selecting, organizing, interpreting, checking,
and reacting to sensory stimuli or data.”
According to S. P. Robbins, perception can be deﬁned as “the process by which individuals organize and interpret
their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environments.” Stages of Perception
When you're stimulated, something comes to your attention. The ﬁve senses stimulate people. They include
smelling, seeing, hearing, tasting and touching. Your eyes are the most common receptors for stimulation, but
tasting a delicious meal or smelling a cinnamon pinecone can be just as stimulating. You have access to a
variety of stimuli throughout the day, from the moment you hear your alarm in the morning until the second
you feel the pillow beneath your head as you fall asleep each night. Stages of Perception
Your body spreads large amounts of information throughout the body. Your brain recognizes familiar ideas
and concepts and connects them with past experiences. This allows your brain to understand what is
happening. During this phase, receptors in your body construct mental representations of the stimulation you
experience. This is called a percept. They help us arrange ideas in our minds with the help of patterns.
Patterns help us group our ideas so that we can interpret them. Stages of Perception
When your body recognizes events and features, you apply your own experiences and biases. You evaluate
your own experience and relate it to your past, values and beliefs. This helps you determine how to react to
situations in front of you. When we interpret information, we give it meaning.
While our brains typically do a great job of organizing stimuli, it can cause some perceptions to be misguided
or misinterpreted. One way in which this happens is through stereotypes.
Additionally, interpretation is subjective. This means that each person can have a different opinion or
understanding of the same stimulus. Stages of Perception
When your body stores events and moments in your brain, they become part of your memory. You will build
associations between these moments and your personal beliefs and experiences. Memories can relate to
good or bad experiences. You may not even realize you have a memory stored until another stimuli reminds
you of something that happened.
Your body stores not only the speciﬁc stimuli you experienced, but also your feelings about them. For
example, you might store a memory of walking with your father at the park as a positive memory. You might
store a memory of being lost and scared as a negative memory. Stages of Perception
You can even recall moments from your life to evaluate them. When you do this, you bring a perceived event to
your mind to retrieve details. When you recall moments often, you can begin to do so more accurately. You
may also realize that over time, the memories you are able to recall change. Your recall may even change
some elements of the memory.
Perception ultimately helps people of different experiences assign meaning to information and events in their
lives. Each person also perceives events differently from others. This makes perception subjective. SELECTION ORGANISATION ORGANISATION Selection, the first stage of perception, is the process
through which we attend to some stimuli in our
environment and not others. SELECTION
● Selection is the process by which we attend to some stimuli in our environment
and not others.
Selection is often influenced by our personal motives, incentives, impulses, or
drives to act a certain way.
Perceptual expectancy is a predisposition to perceive things in a certain way. It
explains why we are more likely to selectively attend to some stimuli and not
Selection is often influenced by intense stimuli, such as bright lights and colors,
loud sounds, strong odors, spicy flavors, or painful contact. Evolutionary
psychologists believe this is because it aids in survival. Why do we respond only to a few stimuli?
Most of us are presented with millions of sensory stimuli a day. How do we know what
to attend to and what to ignore?
What tells us that it’s okay not to notice each and every leaf on each and every tree that
we pass, but important to attend to the dip in the sidewalk in front of us? Though
perception is diﬀerent for each person, we each attend to the stimuli that are
meaningful in our individual worlds. Selection is the process by which we attend to
some stimuli in our environment and not others. Because we cannot possibly attend to
all of the stimuli we are presented with, our brains have an amazing unconscious
capacity to pick and choose what’s important and what’s not. The Inﬂuence of Motives
Motivation has an enormous impact on the perceptions people form about the world. A simple example
comes from a short-term drive, like hunger: the smell of cooking food will catch the attention of a
person who hasn’t eaten for several hours, while a person who is full might not attend to that detail.
Long-term motivations also influence what stimuli we attend to. For example, an art historian who has
spent many years looking at visual art might be more likely to pay attention to the detailed carvings on
the outside of a building; an architect might be more likely to notice the structure of the columns
supporting the building.
Perceptual expectancy, also called perceptual set, is a predisposition to perceive things in a certain way
based on expectations and assumptions about the world. A simple demonstration of perceptual
expectancy involves very brief presentations of non-words such as “sael.” Subjects who were told to
expect words about animals read it as “seal,” but others who were expecting boat-related words read it
as “sail.” Emotional Drives
Emotional drives can also influence the selective attention humans pay to stimuli. Some examples of
this phenomenon are:
● Selective retention: recalling only what reinforces your beliefs, values, and expectations. For
example, if you are a fan of a particular cricket player or team, you are more likely to remember
statistics about that team / player than other teams that you don’t care about.
Selective perception: the tendency to perceive what you want to. To continue the above example
example, you might be more likely to perceive an umpire who makes a call against your favorite
team as being wrong because you want to believe that your team is perfect.
Selective exposure: you select what you want to expose yourself to based on your beliefs, values,
and expectations. For example, you might associate more with people who are also fans of your
favorite cricket team, thus limiting your exposure to other stimuli. This is commonly seen in
individuals who associate with a political party or religion: they tend to spend time with others
who reinforce their beliefs. The Cocktail Party Eﬀect
The phenomenon of being able to selectively focus on a particular stimulus while filtering out a
range of other stimuli in the same way that a partygoer can focus on a single conversation in a
noisy room or notice their name being spoken in another conversation.
Selective attention shows up across all ages. Babies begin to turn their heads toward a sound
that is familiar to them, such as their parents’ voices. This shows that infants selectively attend
to specific stimuli in their environment. Their accuracy in noticing these physical diﬀerences
amid background noise improves over time.
Some examples of messages that catch people’s attention include personal names and taboo
words. The ability to selectively attend to one’s own name has been found in infants as young
as 5 months of age and appears to be fully developed by 13 months. This is known as the ”
cocktail party eﬀect.” This term can also be used generally to describe the ability of people to
attend to one conversation while tuning out others. The Inﬂuence of Stimulus Intensity
A stimulus that is particularly intense, like a bright light or bright color, a loud sound, a strong
odor, a spicy taste, or a painful contact, is most likely to catch your attention. Evolutionary
psychologists theorize that we selectively attend to these kinds of stimuli for survival purposes.
Humans who could attend closely to these stimuli were more likely to survive than their
counterparts, since some intense stimuli (like pain, powerful smells, or loud noises) can
indicate danger. More than half the brain is devoted to processing sensory information, and the
brain itself consumes roughly one-fourth of one’s metabolic resources, so the senses must
provide exceptional benefits to fitness. After the brain has decided which of the millions of stimuli it will attend to, it needs to organize the information that it has
taken in. Organization is the process by which we mentally arrange the information we’ve just attended to in order to make
sense of it; we turn it into meaningful and digestible patterns. ORGANISATION
● Organization, the second stage of the perceptual process, is how we mentally
arrange information into meaningful and digestible patterns.
The Gestalt laws of grouping are a set of principles in psychology that explain how
humans naturally perceive stimuli as organized patterns and objects.
The human brain has a special module specifically for recognizing and organizing
people: the fusiform face area (FFA).
While our tendency to group stimuli together helps us to organize our sensations
quickly and eﬀiciently, it can also lead to misguided perceptions.
Perceptual schemas help us organize impressions of people based on appearance,
social roles, interaction, or other traits, while stereotypes help us systematize
information so the information is easier to identify, recall, predict, and react to. Gestalt Laws of Grouping
The Gestalt laws of grouping is a set of principles in psychology first proposed by
Gestalt psychologists to explain how humans naturally perceive stimuli as organized
patterns and objects.
Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain
meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. The gestalt eﬀect is the
capability of our brain to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual
recognition of global figures, instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated
elements. Essentially, gestalt psychology says that our brain groups elements together
whenever possible instead of keeping them as separate elements.
A few of these laws of grouping include the laws of proximity, similarity, and closure and
the figure-ground law. 1. The Law of Proximity
This law posits that when we perceive a collection of objects we will perceptually group
together objects that are physically close to each other.
This allows for the grouping together of elements into larger sets, and reduces the need to
process a larger number of smaller stimuli.
For this reason, people tend to see clusters of dots on a page instead of a large number of
The brain groups together the elements instead of processing a large number of smaller
stimuli, allowing us to understand and conceptualize information more quickly. 1. The Law of Proximity 2. The Law of Similarity
This law states that people will perceive similar elements will be perceptually grouped
together. This allows us to distinguish between adjacent and overlapping objects based
on their visual texture and resemblance. 3. The Figure-Ground Law
A visual field can be separated into two distinct regions: the figures (prominent objects) and the ground (the objects that
recede into the background. Many optical illusions play on this perceptual tendency. 4. The Law of Closure
The law of closure explains that our perception will complete incomplete objects, such as the lines of the IBM logo. Organizing People
1. Perceptual Schemas
We develop perceptual schemas in order to organize impressions of people based on their appearance, social roles,
interaction, or other traits; these schemas then influence how we perceive other things in the world. These schemas
are heuristics, or shortcuts that save time and effort on computation. For example, you might have a perceptual
schema that the building where you go to class is symmetrical on the outside (sometimes called the “symmetry
heuristic,” or the tendency to remember things as being more symmetrical than they are). Even if it isn’t, making that
assumption saved your mind some time. This is the blessing and curse of schemas and heuristics: they are useful for
making sense of a complex world, but they can be inaccurate. Organizing People
We also develop stereotypes to help us make sense of the world. Stereotypes are categories of objects or people
that help to simplify and systematize information so the information is easier to be identified, recalled, predicted, and
reacted to. Between stereotypes, objects or people are as different from each other as possible. Within stereotypes,
objects or people are as similar to each other as possible.
While our tendency to group stimuli together helps us to organize our sensations quickly and efficiently, it can also
lead to misguided perceptions.
Stereotypes become dangerous when they no longer reflect reality, or when they attribute certain characteristics to
entire groups. They can contribute to bias, discriminatory behavior, and oppression. INTERPRETATION
● Interpretation is the process through which we represent and understand stimuli.
Once information is organized into categories, we superimpose it onto our lives to
give them meaning.
Interpretation of stimuli is subjective, which means that individuals can come to
diﬀerent conclusions about the exact same stimuli.
Subjective interpretation of stimuli is aﬀected by individual values, needs, beliefs,
experiences, expectations, self-concept, and other personal factors.
Factors that Influence Interpretation: Cultural values, needs, beliefs, experiences,
expectations, involvement, self-concept, and other personal influences all have
tremendous bearing on how we interpret stimuli in our environment. Experiences
Prior experience plays a major role in the way a person interprets stimuli. For example,
an individual who has experienced abuse might see someone raise their hand and
flinch, expecting to be hit.
That is their interpretation of the stimulus (a raised hand). Someone who has not
experienced abuse but has played sports, however, might see this stimulus as a signal
for a high five. Diﬀerent individuals react diﬀerently to the same stimuli, depending on
their prior experience of that stimuli. Values and Culture
Culture provides structure, guidelines, expectations, and rules to help people understand and interpret
behaviors. Ethnographic ( study of individual cultures) studies suggest there are cultural diﬀerences in
social understanding, interpretation, and response to behavior and emotion.
Cultural scripts dictate how positive and negative stimuli should be interpreted. For example,
ethnographic accounts suggest that American mothers generally think that it is important to focus on
their children’s successes while Chinese mothers tend to think it is more important to provide discipline
for their children. Therefore, a Chinese mother might interpret a good grade on her child’s test
(stimulus) as her child having guessed on most of the questions (interpretation) and therefore as
worthy of discipline, while an American mother will interpret her child as being very smart and worthy
of praise. Another example is that Eastern cultures typically perceive successes as being arrived at by a
group eﬀort, while Western cultures like to attribute successes to individuals. Expectation and Desire
An individual’s hopes and expectations about a stimulus can aﬀect their interpretation
of it. In one experiment, students were allocated to pleasant or unpleasant tasks by a
computer. They were told that either a number or a letter would flash on the screen to
say whether they were going to taste orange juice or an unpleasant-tasting health drink.
In fact, an ambiguous figure (stimulus) was flashed on screen, which could either be
read as the letter B or the number 13 (interpretation). When the letters were associated
with the pleasant task, subjects were more likely to perceive a letter B, and when letters
were associated with the unpleasant task they tended to perceive a number 13. The
individuals’ desire to avoid the unpleasant drink led them to interpret a stimulus in a
particular way. Self-concept
This term describes the collection of beliefs people have about themselves, including
elements such as intelligence, gender roles, racial identity, and many others.
If I believe myself to be an attractive person, I might interpret stares from strangers
(stimulus) as admiration (interpretation). However, if I believe that I am unattractive, I
might interpret the same as negative judgments. How Perception diﬀers in individuals?
1. Need for cognition refers to the tendency to think carefully and fully about our
experiences, including the social situations we encounter (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982).
People with a strong need for cognition tend to process information more
thoughtfully and therefore may make more causal attributions overall. In contrast,
people without a strong need for cognition tend to be more impulsive and
impatient and may make attributions more quickly and spontaneously. In terms of
attributional diﬀerences, there is some evidence that people higher in need for
cognition may take more situational factors into account when considering the
behaviors of others. Consequently, they tend to make more tolerant rather than
punitive attributions about people in stigmatized groups. How Perception diﬀers in individuals?
2. A major determinant of how we react to perceived threats is the type of attribution that we make to them. A...
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