What is perception?
Perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information. The word perception comes from the Latin perception-, percepio, , meaning "receiving, collecting, action of taking possession, apprehension with the mind or senses.
According to Stephen P Robbins, Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment. The term originated from a Latin word ‘percepio’ meaning receiving, collecting, action of taking possession, apprehension with the mind or senses.
Fred Luthans has defned Perception as a complicated interactions of selection, organization and interpretation of stimuli. According to Luthans, the perceptual process comprises of External environment—Confrontation—Registration—Interpretation—Feedback—Behaviour—Consequence.Perceptual ProcessObjects in the environment—Observation—Perceptual Selection—Perceptual Organization—Interpretation—ResponsePerceptual SelectivityPerceptual selection is the process by which people filter out irrelevant or less significant information so that they can deal with the most important matters.Perceptual Selection is determined by
External Factors affecting perceptual selection:
Size: The larger the size, the more likely it is to be perceived. The tallest person in the office will invariably be noticed.
Intensity: The more intense an external factor (bright light, loud noise, high pitch sound etc.) the more likely it is to be perceived. One may notice that the TV commercials always have high pitch as compared to normal telecast.
Contrast: External factors that stand out against the background or things that are not which people expect are more likely to be perceived.
Motion: A moving factor is more likely to be perceived than stationary factor. Films (motion pictures) attract people more than a static picture.
Repetition: A repeated factor is more likely to be noticed. Marketing managers use this principle in trying to get attention of the prospective customers.
Novelty and familiarity: Either novelty or familiarity will can attract attention. People would quickly notice a person riding an elephant on a busy street in Delhi. On the other hand, one is likely to spot a familiar face in a crowd or a familiar voice even if there is a lot of noise and confusion.
A combination of these or similar factor may be operating at any time to affect perception. Along with the internal factors, they determine whether any particular stimulus is more or less likely to be noticed.
Internal factors affecting perceptual selection:
Personality: Personality has an interesting influence on what and how people perceive. For example, conscientious people tend to pay more attention to external environmental cues than does a less conscientious person. Less conscientious persons are impulsive, careless, and irresponsible. They see their environment as hectic and unstable which affects the way they make perceptual selections. On the other hand, more conscientious people organize their perceptions into neat categories, allowing themselves to retrieve data quickly and in an organized manner. In other words, they are careful, methodical, and disciplined in making perceptual selections.Learning: Learning determines the development of perceptual sets. A perceptual set is an expectation of a particular interpretation based on past experiences with the same or an identical object. In organizational settings, past experiences of the managers and employees influence their perceptions to a great extent.
Motivation: A person’s most urgent needs and desires at any particular time can influence perception. People perceive things that promise to help satisfy their needs and that they have found rewarding in the past. Also, according to Pollyanna principle, people process pleasant event more efficiently and accurately than they do unpleasant events. For example, an employee who receives both positive and negative feedback during the appraisal meeting may more easily and clearly remember the positive statements than the negative ones.
Figure-ground: Perceived objects stand out as separable from their general background. In the context of organizations, a company may import a new technology in order to compete in the globalized economy. Here import of a new technology is a figure and global competitive environment is the background. The employees will immediately notice the installation of new technology whereas the global competitive environment is not visible by naked eyes.
Perceptual grouping: There is a general tendency among individuals to group several stimuli together into a recognizable pattern. There are certain underlying uniformities in grouping. When simple constellations of stimuli are presented to people, they tend to group them together by closure, continuity, proximity, and similarity.
Closure: An individual may perceive a whole while one actually does not exists. The person’s perceptual process closes the gaps that are unfilled by from sensory inputs. In a formal organization, employees may either see a ‘whole’ that does not exits or not be able to put the pieces together into a ‘whole’ that does exists. For example, head of a project team may take the view that the entire team agrees to his plan of action whereas there are differing views among the team members, which remains unarticulated in a formal manner. On the other hand, a functional team might view/perceive that their objectives are the objectives of the whole company.Continuity: An individual tend to perceive continuous lines/patterns. This leads to inflexible thinking on the part of organizational members (both managers and employees). Thus, only the obvious, continuous patterns or relationships are perceived. For example, a new design for some production process or product may be limited to obvious flows or continuous lines/patterns. New innovative ideas or designs may not be perceived.
Proximity: A group of stimuli that are close together will be perceived as a whole pattern of parts belonging together. For example, several employees in an organization may be identified as a single group because of physical proximity. Several workers who work on a particular process may be viewed as a single whole. If the output is low and the supervisor reports a number of grievances from the group, the management may perceive that all the workers working on that particular process are trouble makers whereas in some of them might be loyal and dedicated employees.
Similarity: The greater the similarity of stimuli, the greater is the tendency to perceive them as a common group. Similarity is conceptually related to proximity but in most cases stronger than proximity. In an organization, all employees who wear blue collars may be perceived as a common group, when in reality, each employee is a unique individual. This might also lead to perceptual error termed as stereotyping.
Perceptual Constancy: There are two issues. While objective reality of stimuli remains unchanged, people’s subjective reality also remains constant. That is, the individual is likely to give meaning to stimuli in the same way whenever exposed to them unless and until objective reality has been revealed more broadly by way of undoing the perceptual errors. For example, a manager in the company who believes that female employees are poor performers would continue to have the same perception until and unless the latter prove that they are better than their male colleagues.
Perceptual Context: It gives meaning and value to simple stimuli in the environment. The organizational culture and structure provide the primary context in which workers and managers perceive things. Thus, a verbal order, an e-mail message, a new policy, a suggestion, a raised eyebrow, a pat on the back takes on special meaning and value when placed in the context of work organization.
Accuracy of judgment:Similarity error: People are predisposed towards those having similar traits, socio-economic-cultural background.
Contrast error: People tend to compare among the available resources and thus arrive at a conclusion that might be far from the objective reality.
Race/gender/age bias: People’s perception may be tempered by their prejudices vis-à-vis race, gender, and age.First impression error: People may hold a long-term view about a person or thing based on first impression.
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.Stereotyping: It is the belief that all members of a specific groups share similar traits and behaviour. Most often, a person is put into a stereotype because the perceiver knows only the overall category to which the person belongs. However, because each individual is unique, the real traits of the person are generally quite different from those that stereotype would suggest.
Halo effect: Under halo effect, a person is perceived on the basis of a single trait. It generally occurs during performance appraisal where the supervisor rates an employee on the basis of only one trait e.g. intelligence, punctuality, cooperativeness appearance etc.
Projection: It is the tendency of seeing one’s own traits in others. Thus, individuals project their own feelings, personality characteristics attitudes, or motives onto others. Projection may be especially strong for undesirable traits that the perceivers possess but fail to recognize in themselves. People whose personality traits include stingyness, obstinacy, and disorderliness tend to rate others higher on these traits than do people who do not have these traits.