Question No.2: Why is perception important? Explain the factors influencing perception.
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, as we have noted, what one perceives can be substantially different from objective reality.
An individual’s behaviour is based on their perception of reality, not on reality itself. It is important in communicating effectively, assessing situations, understanding behaviours, and selecting and evaluating employees. Perception helps us to understand differences in the behaviours of different people by showing us that their perceptions vary, even though the situation/context might be the same.
FACTORS INFLUENCING PERCEPTION
Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about properties and elements of the environment that are critical to our survival. Perception not only creates our experience of the world around us; it allows us to act within our environment.
A number of factors operate to shape and sometimes distort perception. These factors can reside:
1. The perceiver.
2. The Target
3. The Situation
1. The Perceiver:
Several characteristics of the perceiver can affect perception. When an individual looks at a target and attempts to interpret what he or she stands for, that interpretation is heavily influenced by personal characteristics of the individual perceiver. The major characteristics of the perceiver influencing perception are:
a. Attitudes: The perceiver’s attitudes affect perception. For example, suppose Mr. X is interviewing candidates for a very important position in his organization – a position that requires negotiating contracts with suppliers, most of whom are male. Mr X may feel that women are not capable of holding their own in tough negotiations. This attitude will doubtless affect his perceptions of the female candidates he interviews.
b. Moods: Moods can have a strong influence on the way we perceive someone. We think differently when we are happy than we do when we are depressed. In addition, we remember information that is consistent with our mood state better than information that is inconsistent with our mood state. When in a positive mood, we form more positive impressions of others. When in a negative mood, we tend to evaluate others unfavorably.
c. Motives: Unsatisfied needs or motives stimulate individuals and may exert a strong influence on their perceptions. For example, in an organizational context, a boss who is insecure perceives a subordinate’s efforts to do an outstanding job as a threat to his or her own position. Personal insecurity can be translated into the perception that others are out to "get my job", regardless of the intention of the subordinates.
d. Self-Concept: Another factor that can affect social perception is the perceivers’ self-concept. An individual with a positive self-concept tends to notice positive attributes in another person. In contrast, a negative self-concept can lead a perceiver to pick out negative traits in another person. Greater understanding of self allows us to have more accurate perceptions of others.
e. Interest: The focus of our attention appears to be influenced by our interests. Because our individual interests differ considerably, what one person notices in a situation can differ from what others perceive. For example, the supervisor who has just been reprimanded by his boss for coming late is more likely to notice his colleagues coming late tomorrow than he did last week. If you are preoccupied with a personal problem, you may find it hard to be attentive in class.
f. Cognitive Structure: Cognitive structure, an individual’s pattern of thinking, also affects perception. Some...
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