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PERCEPTION

Meaning & Definition:


Perception is the process by which an individual becomes aware of and interprets information about the environment. It is the process by which people organize, interpret and experience ideas and use stimulus materials in the environment so as to they satisfy their needs. Perception basically refers to the manner in which a person experiences the world. People act as they perceive and different people perceive things differently. People perceive the world differently and behave differently. Perception is one important determinant of human behavior. Everyone wears his own rose-colored glasses i.e. one doesnt always see what is actually happening. One doesnt always hear what is really said. One doesnt always buy what is best. We buy what we like best and not what is best. The concept of perception is important for managers who want to avoid making errors when dealing with people and events in the work setting. A managers response to a situation may be misinterpreted by a subordinate who perceives the situation differently. In order to deal with the subordinates effectively, a manager must understand their perceptions properly.

Definition:
According to S.P. Robbins, Perception may be defined as a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their 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. The study of these perceptional processes shows that their functioning is affected by three classes of variables the objects or events being perceived, the environment in which perception occurs and the individuals doing the perceiving. People working in an organization differ in terms of physical characteristics (age, sex, etc.), background characteristics (education, training, etc.) and personality traits (such as extroversion or aggressiveness). Due to these differences, they do not view the same thing in the same way. There is often difference of opinion and evaluation. People differ in their reaction due to difference in perception they have about things. Perception may thus be described as a persons view of reality. Example: Management Sale declining, Profit margin decreasing Workers/Unions Management attempt to exploit the workers Shareholders Declining sales and profit margin is due to inefficient utilization of resources

Features of Perception:
1. Perception is a process. 2. It is an intellectual process. 3. Through this process a person selects the data from the environment, organizes it and obtains meaning from it. 4. Perception is a basic cognitive or psychological process. The human behavior is affected by it. The peoples action, emotion, thoughts or feelings are triggered by the perception of their environment. 5. Perception is a subjective process and different people may perceive the same environmental even differently.

Perceptual Process:
Perceptual process has following components
1. Inputs All the stimuli that exist in the environment information, objects,

events, people, etc.


2. Perceptual Mechanisms Mechanism of perception are selection, organization

and interpretation.
a) Selection Perceptual selection takes account of only those stimuli that are

relevant and appropriate for an individual. Selection is a basic step in the perceptual process. Individual collects bits and pieces of information, not randomly, but selectively depending on the interests, background, experience, attitudes, etc.
b) Organization Perceptual organization is concerned with shaping the

perceived inputs and converting them into a meaningful shape or form. After the information from the situation has been selected, it is organized to extract meaning out of what is perceived by the individual. Thus, while selection is a subjective process, organization is a cognitive process. Principles of Perceptual Organization:

Figure Ground / Context The relationship of a target to its background influences perception. Perceived objects stand out as separable from their background. Perceptual Grouping It is the tendency to club the information into meaningful pattern. If we perceive people with similar characteristics, we tend to group them together. Grouping is possible depending upon the similarity or proximity. Similarity Other things being equal, similar things tend to be perceived as belonging together.

Proximity Other things being equal, things near to each other tend to be perceived as belonging together.

Simplification Whenever people are overloaded with information, they try to simplify it to make it more meaningful and understandable. Closure People when faced with incomplete information have a tendency to fill the gaps themselves to make it more meaningful. Continuity Stimuli that form a complete or symmetrical figure or a good form tend to be grouped as parts of a whole.

c) Interpretation Perceptual interpretation deals with inferences drawn from

observed meaning from the perceived events or objects. After information has been received and organized, the perceiver interprets or assigns meaning to the information. Perception is said to have taken place only after the data has been interpreted.
3. Outputs As a result of the perceptual process, the outputs which the individual

gets are changes in attitudes, opinions, beliefs, feelings, etc.


4. Behavior The perceivers behavior is shaped by the perceived outputs i.e.,

changes in attitudes, opinions, beliefs, etc.

Factors Affecting Perception:


The factors that influence perceptual mechanism are of three kinds:
1. Characteristics of the perceiver (internal factors)

a) Needs and Motives People with different needs usually experience different stimulus.
b) Self-Concept The self-concept plays an important role in perceptual

selectivity. Knowing oneself makes it easier to see others accurately.


c) Beliefs A fact is conceived not on what it is but what a person believes it to

be. The individual normally censors stimulus inputs to avoid disturbance of his existing beliefs. d) Past Experience The past experience mould the way a person perceive the current situation. e) Current Emotional and Psychological State f) Expectations
2. Characteristics of the perceived or target

a) Size Size attracts the attention of an individual. Bigger the size, higher is the probability that it is perceived. b) Intensity Intensity attracts to increase the selective perception.

c) Frequency High frequency more attention-attracting d) Status High status people can exert greater influence on perception e) Contrast Stimulus that contrast with the surrounding environment are more

likely to be attention catching 3. Characteristics of the situation Physical Factors (Location, Light, Heat, etc.), Social and Organizational Factors, Time, etc.

Perceptual Errors and Distortion:


Errors can creep into the perceptual interpretation of individuals. It may arise due to
1. Selective Perception: Perception is basically a selective process. People

selectively interpret what they see on the basis of their background, interests, attitudes and experience. They tend to perceive what is in accordance with their needs, motives and interests. People are more likely to pay attention to those aspects of their environment which they anticipate or expect rather than those they do not anticipate or expect. And people tend to anticipate what they are familiar with. (Example a doctor, a mechanic and a policeman who saw an automobile accident happen right in front of them -----)
2. Projection: Its mean attributing ones own traits or characteristics to the people

being judged and this can distort perceptual judgments about others. (Example A lazy person may see others as lazy. One who is dishonest may be suspicious of others. )
3. Stereotyping: Judging people on the basis of the characteristics of the group to

which they belong is called Stereotyping. Groups such as sex, race, religion, nationality, occupation, organization, etc. (Example: Americans are materialistic, Japanese are nationalistic, and Germans are industrious.) Stereotyping is the tendency for a persons perception of another to be influenced by the social group to which they belong.
4. Halo Effect: It refers to the tendency of drawing a general impression about an

individual based on a single characteristic such as intelligence, sociability or appearance. This is a very common type of error committed by managers. Halo effect creep in when manager allows one aspect of a mans character or performance to influence his entire evaluation. (Example a teacher may award higher marks to those students who are more social. In interview, candidates with vocal skills may be given higher weight age)
5. Impression: People often form impression of others on the first sight even before

knowing any of their personality traits. But first impression need not be the last impression.

6. Inference: There is a tendency to judge others on limited information. (Example

an employee, sitting at his desk throughout the working hours without doing anything, may be perceived as sincere towards his duties. Thus, performance appraisal must not be based on incomplete information.
7. Attribution: When people give cause and effect explanation to the observed

behavior, it is known as attribution. Perception is distorted sometimes by the efforts of the perceiver to attribute a causal explanation to an outcome. When we observe an individuals behavior, we attempt to determine whether it was internally (under the control of the individual) or externally (outside causes) caused. When we make judgments about the behavior of other people, we have a tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal or personal factors. This is called a fundamental attribution error. (Example a sales manager may perceive the poor performance of sales agents to laziness rather than the innovative product line introduced by a competitor.) There is a tendency for individuals to attribute their success to internal factors like ability or effort while putting the blame for failure on external factors like luck. This is called self-serving bias.
8. Perceptual Set: Previously held beliefs about objects influence an individuals

perception of similar objects. This is called perceptual set. (Example a managers perception that workers are lazy and dont want to work.)

Developing Perceptual Skills to Reduce Perceptual Errors:


1. Keep in mind the way the perception process works. 2. Effective communication. 3. Understand other persons point of view. 4. Change attitude and behavior when come across new information. This will overcome stereotyping, halo effect and perceptual defense. 5. View the world in dynamic terms. 6. See things with a positive attitude. 7. Avoid personal biases or negative feeling about others.

Some Application of Perception in OB:


1. Employment Interview 2. Performance Appraisal 3. Assessing Level of Efforts 4. Assessing Loyalty