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Published by: shivakumar N on Jul 03, 2009
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What Is Perception, and Why Is It Important?
• People’s behavior is based on their perception of what reality is, not on reality itself. • The world as it is perceived is the world that is behaviorally important.

What the study of Perception is all about?
The study of perception is concerned with identifying the processes through which we interpret and organize sensory information to produce our conscious experience of objects & object relationships.

• It is our ability to detect stimuli in our immediate environment. • Sensation is concerned with the initial contact b/w organisms & their physical environment. • It also focuses on describing the relationship b/w various forms of sensory stimulation & how these inputs are registered by the sensory organs. • Perception helps an individual to effectively process & interpret the raw sensory inputs into meaningful sensation.

• It is the process used by a person to eliminate some of the stimuli that have been sensed & to retain others for further processing. • Selection depends on:
– Physical Characteristics of the stimuli:
• Contrast (difference b/w one stimulus & surrounding stimuli that makes that stimulus more likely to be selected) • Novelty (when the stimulus we are sensing differs from stimuli we have experienced in the past). • Intensity • Change • Other Dimensions (frequency, number of senses stimulated, number of stimuli etc).

– Characteristics of the perceiver

The Sub-processes Of Perception

STIMULUS OR SITUATION External Environment Physical Socio-cultural


Confrontation of specific stimulus

Registration of stimulus

Interpretation of stimulus

Feedback for clarification


Behavior (overt or covert) Consequence (reinforcement, punishment)


Factors That Influence Perception

Factors influencing Perception
Situational factors: • Physical settings • Social settings • Organizational setting Characteristics of the perceived: • • • • Nature Size Appearance Location

Individual Perception

Perceiver’s Characteristics: • • • • Needs Experiences Values & Attitudes Personality

Perceptual Process
Stimuli External & Internal Stimuli Organizing Stimuli is received through sensory organs

Selective Attention External Factors:
Nature Location Size Contrast Movement Repetition Familiarity

Internal Factors:
Learning Needs Age Interest Paranoid

Ambiguous figures Figure ground Grouping Constancy

Perceptual set Attribution Stereotyping Halo-effect Defense & Projection

Response Covert:
Attitudes Motivation Feeling


Perceptual Organization
• It is the process by which people group stimuli into recognizable patterns. • Selection gives way to organization and stimuli selected for attention then appears as a whole. • Factors influencing “Perceptual Organization”: Ambiguous Figures
Figure Background Grouping Constancy

Principle of Similarity in Perception
• It is exemplified when objects of similar shape, size or color tend to be grouped together

Principle of Proximity in Perception
• It underlines the tendency to perceive stimuli which are near to one another as belonging together.

Principle of Closure in Perception
• It states that a person has a tendency to perceive a whole when none exists. The perceptual process will close the gaps which are unfilled from the sensory inputs.

Principle of Continuity in Perception
• It is the tendency to perceive objects as continuing patterns. It is closely related to the principle of closure. • Closure supplies the missing stimuli; whereas the continuity principle depicts that a person would tend to perceive continuous lines or patterns.

Perceptual Constancy
• Perceptual Constancy is our ability to perceive certain characteristics of an object as remaining constant, despite variations in the stimuli that provide us with conflicting information. • Perceptual Constancy is of the following types:
Shape Constancy Size Constancy Color Constancy

The Contrast Principle Of Perception

Process of Interpreting
The process of interpretation depends on several factors, namely: • • • • • • • • • Perceptual Set Attribution Stereotyping Primacy/Recency Effects Halo effect Perceptual context Perceptual defense Implicit Personality theory Projection

The Role That Learning Plays In Perception

Person Perception: Making Judgments About Others

Distinctiveness: shows different behaviors in different situations. Consensus: response is the same as others to same situation. Consistency: responds in the same way over time.

Perceptual Set
When previously held beliefs about objects influence an individual’s perceptions of similar objects it is referred to as “Perceptual Set”

It refers to the process by which the individual assigns causes to the behavior he or she conceives.

It is the tendency to assign attributes to someone solely on the basis of a category of people to which that person belongs.

Attribution Theory
• Contributed by Fritz Heider & H.H. Kelly. • The theory suggests that we observe behavior & then attribute causes to it. • The process of attribution is based on perceptions of reality and these perceptions may vary widely among individuals. • The theory also depicts that, the behavior of others can be examined on the basis of its: Distinctiveness
Consistency Consensus

Attribution Process
Distinctiveness (High or Low)

Observation of Behavior

Consistency (High or Low)

Attribution of causes Internal or External

Consensus (High or Low)

Rules of Attribution
Does this person behave in this manner in other Situations?

Does this person behave in this same manner other times?

Do other persons behave in this same manner?

Yes Low Distinctiveness No High Distinctiveness

Yes High Consistency No Low Consistency

No Low Consensus Yes High Consensus

Internal External Attribution Attribution

Attribution Theory

Kelly’s Model Of Attribution
Example of Organizational Behavior Type of Information/ Observation Attribution Made

Coworkers are also performing poorly on this task The subordinate does not do well on this task during only one time period The subordinate does well on other tasks, but not this one Coworkers are performing very well on this task The subordinate does not do well on this task at any time The subordinate does poorly on other tasks as well as this one

High consensus External (situational or environmental factors)

Low consistency

High distinctiveness

Low consensus Internal (personal factors)

High consistency

Low distinctiveness

Biases Affecting perception
Stereotypes Frame of Reference Expectations


Selective Exposure Interests


Errors and Biases in Attributions

Errors and Biases in Attributions (cont’d)

Frequently Used Shortcuts in Judging Others

Primacy Effect
It refers to the disproportionately high weight given to the first information obtained about a stimulus.

Recency Effect
It refers to the disproportionately high weight given to the last information obtained about a stimulus. .

Perceptual Context
It refers to the context in which an object is placed influences perception. The organizational culture & structure provide the primary context in which workers and managers do their perceiving

Frequently Used Shortcuts in Judging Others

Frequently Used Shortcuts in Judging Others

Specific Applications in Organizations
• Employment Interview
– Perceptual biases affect the accuracy of interviewers’ judgments of applicants.

• Performance Expectations
– Self-fulfilling prophecy (pygmalion effect): The lower or higher performance of employees reflects preconceived leader expectations about employee capabilities.

• Performance Evaluations
– Appraisals are subjective perceptions of performance.

• Employee Effort
– Assessment of individual effort is a subjective judgment subject to perceptual distortion and bias.

The Link Between Perceptions and Individual Decision Making

Perceptions of the decision maker


Assumptions of the Rational Decision-Making Model
1. Problem clarity 2. Known options 3. Clear preferences 4. Constant preferences 5. No time or cost constraints 6. Maximum payoff

Perceptual Defense
• Here an individual is likely to put up a defense when confronted with conflicting, unacceptable or threatening stimuli. • It could be in the form of outright denial, modification of the data received, change in perception but refusal to change & change in the perception itself.

Implicit Personality Theory
While judging & making inferences about others, an individual’s perceptions are influenced by his belief that certain human traits are associated with one another (eg: honesty & hardworking).

Impression Management Strategies





DemotionPreventative Strategy

PromotionEnhancing Strategy


Obstacle disclosures


Expectancy Effect
It occurs when people perceive stimuli in ways that will confirm their expectations

Pygmalion Effect (Self-fulfilling prophecy)
It occurs when people unconsciously adjust their behaviors to reflect their expectations in a particular situation.

Managing the Perception process
• Have a high level of self-awareness • Seek information from various sources to confirm or disconfirm personal impressions of a decision situation. • Be empathetic-that is, be able to see a situation as it is perceived by other people. • Influence perceptions of other people when they are drawing incorrect or incomplete impressions of events in the work settings.

Managing the Perception process
• Avoid common perceptual distortions that bias our views of people & situations. • Avoid inappropriate attributions • Diversity management programs • Knowing yourself/oneself (Self-Perceptions).

Self-Perceptions: The Johari Window
Johari Window is an effective way to conceptualize the possible combinations of what one individual knows about himself/herself & what others know about him/her.

The Johari Window
• Developed by Joseph Luft & Harry Ingham (Thus the name Johari Window), this model is useful for analyzing the causes for inter-personal conflict. • The model is based on two assumptions: Degree to which the person knows about himself or herself. Degree to which the person is known to others. • The basic platform of this model is that personal & professional relationships of people in organizations can be greatly improved (conflict eliminated) through understanding others.

The Johari Window
Feedback Known to Self Not Known to Self


Known to Others

Open Area

Blind Area

Not Known to Others

Hidden Area

Unknown Area

Social Perception
It is the process of combining, integrating, and interpreting information about others to gain an accurate understanding of them.

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