The Perceptual Process
Perception can be defined as a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment. However, what one perceives can be substantially different from objective reality. It is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment. We are familiar with the term sensation. Sensation means seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. In other words, sensation means drawing effect from the five senses. Perception is much more than sensation. Perception depends upon the senses for raw data but the cognitive process filters, modifies or completely changes data. In other words, people interpret what they see or hear with their own experience or beliefs.
Factors Influencing Perception
A number of factors operate to shape and sometimes distort perception. These factors can reside in the perceiver, in the object or target being perceived, or in the context of the situation in which the perception is made.
Perceiver’s needs, habits, impact of past experience, ethics and values, attitude and personality, all influence the perception process. For example, a person with strong ego needs would look at other people or situation either as ego satisfying or ego threatening, thus perhaps making the perceptions inaccurate. Similarly, less secure people often find faults with others. Secure persons tend to see others as warm and friendly.
Appearance, communication, behavior affects the perceptual process. Both verbal and nonverbal communication affects our perception about others. The choice of words and percussion of language can form impressions about education and sophistication of the person. The tone of voice sometimes indicates the mood of the person at a given time similarly; the status or occupation of a person also creates an impression in our mind. We tend to behave in a more respectful way when we are introduced to a president of a large corporation or a judge of a Supreme Court or a movie celebrity.
Physical location, social setting and organizational setting can also affect perceptual process. For example, if your meet some lady for first time and she is with another person whom your respect and admire your will create a favorable image about her in your mind as compared to a situation in which you see here with a person whom you intensely disputed.