Perception Definition, Nature & Process

by Team Businesspedia
Perception Definition, Nature & Process

Perception means perceiving, i.e., giving meaning to the environment around us. It can be defined as a process which involves seeing, receiving, selecting, organising, interpreting and giving meaning to the environment.

Perception Definition

A process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.

Stephen P. Robbins

Perception is an important meditative cognitive process through which persons make interpretations of the stimuli’s or situation they are faced with.

Fred Luthans

 Nature of perception

  • Perception is the intellectual process.
  • Perception is the basic cognitive or psychological process.
  • Perception becomes a subjective process and different people may perceive the same event differently.

Perception and Sensation

There is a distinction between sensation and perception. Sensation is the response of a physical sensory organ. The physical senses are vision, hearing, tough, smell and taste. These senses are bombarded by stimuli and reactions in particular sense organ take place because of these, e.g., of sensation may be reaction of eye to colour, ear to sound and so on. Sensation percedes perception. Perception is much more than sensation. Perception depends upon the sensory raw data.

The perceptual process adds to or/and subtracts from the sensory world. Perception is determined by both physiological and psychological characteristics, of the organism. However, sensation only activates the organs of the body and is not affected by such psychological factors as learning and motives. Activation of eyes to see an object is sensation and the inference what is being seen is perception. For managerial action, it is the latter which is important.

Perceptual Process

Perception is a process of receiving, selecting, organising, interpreting, checking and reacting to stimuli. This is like an input-through put-output process in which the stimuli can be considered as ‘inputs’ transformation of ‘input’ through selection, organization and interpretation as ‘through puts’ and the ultimate behaviour/action as ‘output’. The whole perceptional process can be presented as follows : These are explained one by one

Perceptual Process
Perceptual Process
  1. Receiving Stimuli : The first process in the perception is the presence of stimuli. The stimuli are received from the various sources. Through the five organs. It is a physiological aspect of perception process. Stimuli may be external to us (such as sound waves) and inside us (such as energy generation by muscles).
  2. Selection of Stimuli : After receiving the stimuli or data, some are selected. Others are screened out. Two types of factors affect selection of stimuli for processing : external and internal factors. External factors relate to stimuli such as intensity of stimuli, its size, movement, repetition, etc. Internal factors, relate to the perceiver such as his/her age, learning, interest, etc. Normally, he will select the objects which interest him and will avoid that for which he is indifferent. This is also called ‘selective perception’.
  3. Organization of Stimuli: Organising the bits of information into a meaningful whole is called “organization”. There are three ways by which the selected data, i.e., inputs are organised. These are
    • Grouping: In grouping, the perceiver groups the various stimuli on the basis of their similarity or proximity. For example, all the workers coming from the same place may be perceived as similar on the basis of proximity.
    • Closure: When faced with incomplete information, people fill up the gaps themselves to make the information meaningful. This may be done on the basis of past experience, past data, or hunches. For example, in many advertisement, alphabets are written by putting electric bulbs indicating the shape of the concerned alphabets but broken lines. In such cases, people tend to fill up the gap among different bulbs to get meaning out of these.
    • Simplification: People identify main stimulus features and assesses how they are organized. He interprets a stimulus situation, the perceiver simples the information.

Importance of perception

People in organisations are always assessing others. Managers must appraise their subordinate’s performance, evaluate how co-workers are working. When a new person joins a department he or she is immediately assessed by the other persons. These have important effect on the organisation. 

  • Employment Interview: Interviewers make perceptual judgments that are often inaccurate. Different interviewers see different things in the same candidate and arrive at different conclusions about the applicant. Employment interview is an important input into the hiring decision, and perceptual factors influence who is hired and vis-à-vis the Quality of an organisation’s labour force. 
  • Performance Appraisals: An employee’s performance appraisal is very much dependent on the perceptual process. An employee’s future is closely tied to his or her appraisal – promotions, increments and continuation of employment are among the common outcomes.

The performance appraisal represents an assessment of an employee’s work. While this may be objective most jobs are evaluated in subjective terms. Subjective measures are judgmental. The evaluator forms a general impression of an employee’s work, to the degree that managers use subjective measures in appraising employee’s the evaluator perceives to be `good or bad’ employee characteristics/behaviours will significantly influence the appraisal outcome.

  • Assessing Level of Effort: In many organisations, the level of an employee’s effort is given high importance. Assessment of an individual’s effort is a subjective judgment susceptible to perceptual distortions and bias. 
  • Assessing Loyalty: Another important judgment that managers decide about employees is, whether they are loyal to the organisation?
  • Implications of Perception on Performance and Satisfaction Productivity: What individuals perceive from their work situation will influence their productivity. More than the situation itself than whether a job is actually interesting or challenging is not relevant.
    How a manager successfully plans and organizes the work of his subordinates and actually helps them in structuring their work is far less important than how his subordinates perceive his efforts. Therefore, to be able to influence productivity, it is necessary to assess how workers perceive their jobs. 
  • Absenteeism and Turnover: Absence and Turnover are some of the reactions to the individual’s perception. Managers must understand how each individual interprets his job and where there is a significant difference between what is seen and what exists and try to eliminate the distortions. Failure to deal with the differences when individuals perceive the job in negative terms will result in increased absenteeism and turnover. 
  • Job Satisfaction: Job satisfaction is a highly subjective, and feeling of the benefits that derive from the job. Clearly his variable is critically linked to perception. If job satisfaction is to be improved, the worker’s perception of the job characteristics, supervision and the organisation as a whole must be positive. 

Understanding the process of perception is important because

  1. It is unlikely that any person’s definition of reality will be identical to an objective assessment of reality.
  2. It is unlikely that two different person’s definition of reality will be exactly the same.
  3. Individual perceptions directly influences the behaviour exhibited in a given situation. The important fact is that people who work together often see things differently, and this difference can create problems in their ability to work together effectively.

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