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Understanding the Perceptual Process

People perceive things differently and behave accordingly. We react to the

perceived world as we see it. Understanding how it works will help us understand
our own behavior and that of others. In organizational settings, people react to
others and make job-related decisions based on how they perceive on what is
going on in their work environment.

- the process by which people select, organize and interpret the sensory
information they receive into a meaningful picture.
- the process by which we see ourselves and things around us and attach
meanings to what we see.
- it is accomplished through the use of our senses
- it is the process of forming mental picture of people, objects, events and

Why should managers study perception?
1. Big organization dehumanize employees.
2. People are generally lazy, so you have to control them.
3. Happy workers are productive workers.
4. People are emotional.
5. Good leaders are always firm but fair.
6. First impressions are the lasting impressions.
7. Big organization

The Perceptual Process
Studying the perceptual process involves knowing how perceptions from
and how they influence attitude and behavior. The figure illustrates the
perceptual process as a system. It show how objects, events and people in the
environment are received into our perceptual field, and how these perceptual
inputs are selected, organized and interpreted into some meaningful form. The
perceptual process involves the following elements:

I. Reception (Perceptual Inputs)
- perceptual inputs are received through our sensory mechanisms that is,
objects, events and people in the environment enter our perceptual field
through or senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste).
II. Processing (Perceptual Mechanisms)
- these inputs are processed by perceptual mechanisms, that is, they are
selected, organized and interpreted to give meaning to the perceiver.

Perceptual Selection
- we selectively perceive only those stimuli that are considered relevant to
our purposes, the tendency to perceive what we want to see.

Two Psychological Principles
a. Figure-Ground Principle
When we look at objects and events in the perceptual field, we find that not
all objects and events enter our awareness with equal clarity. The tendency to
perceive the salient factors in a picture against insignificant factors is called
figure ground. For example, the printed words on this page is the figure, and the
white space around the words is the ground.
In organizational setting, the manager may select some employee qualities
such as creativity and initiative as important and ignore other qualities such as
dependability and reliability which are then perceived as unimportant. Creativity
and initiative are the figure, while dependability and reliability are the ground. If
the manager wishes to reward employees for the latter qualities, the figure-
ground relationship is simply reversed.

b. Perceptual Relevance
People selectively perceive things that are relevant to their needs, wishes
or desires. Leavitt points out that perceive things that are pleasing to them,
ignore what is mildly disturbing facts and pay close attention to threatening
information. In organizational settings, managers are attuned to favorable
information that makes them look good, ignore mildly disturbing facts and pay
close attention to threatening information.

c. Perceptual Organization
- selected inputs are organized to provide meaningful picture to the
perceiver. They are organized into complete objects, events or mental

Gestalt Process
- the process by which perceived inputs are organized into meaningful

a. Grouping
It refers to the tendency to group things or people on the basis of
proximity or similarity. Things that are close to each other or that similar
characteristics, are perceived to be same and are treated alike.

b. Closure
People have the tendency to fill in the missing information. When they
are presented with a set of stimuli that is not complete, they fill in the
missing parts. When people faced with incomplete messages, they fill in
the missing informations. In organizations, the managers usually do not
have complete information on which to judge their employees, and yet they
fill in the missing information and make personal decisions.

c. Simplification
This principle is the opposite of closure principle. Rather than adding
informational inputs, the perceiver subtract less salient informational items.
When people are overloaded with information. They tend to simplify it to
make it understandable.

III. Perceptual Interpretation
- the interpretation of perceived events and objects. People interpret the
meaning of the perceived world in order to make it useful to their
It is a subjective process.
It is a judgmental process.
It can be easily distorted.

Several Factors that influence Perceptual Information in Social and
Organizational setting
1. Halo effect
- sometimes called horn effect
- the process of using a single favorable trait a person to judge all the
individuals trait.
2. Stereotyping
- the tendency to judge other people on the basis of the characteristics
(real or imagined) of groups to which they belong.
3. Impression and Attribution
- people frequently judge other people on limited information.
4. Attribution
- in judging the action of another person, we tent to evaluate the causes
of the action. If the action is perceived as intentional and directed
toward a particular person, we will have a strong feeling toward the
perpetrator of the behavior.

Accuracy of your Perception
- what we think we see is not always accurate.

Attribution Process
- process of assigning reasons for anothers behavior (self-serving bias)
- hold onto our first impression of someone (why we manage our identity)
- hold onto the negative (hear three positive and one negative piece of
information yet only remember negative piece)

I. Influences (The Perceived Characteristics and the Perceivers Characteristics)
- these mechanisms are affected by both the internal and external factors.

A. External Factors
1. Size
- the larger the size of the perceive stimulus, the more likely it is to
be perceived.
2. Intensity
- accentuates the perceived stimulus. The more intense the
stimulus, the more likely it is to be perceived.
3. Contrast
- the stimulus that stands out against a
4. repetition
5. motion
6. novelty
7. appearance
8. status

B. Internal Factors
1. Needs and Motives
2. Past Experiences
3. Personality
4. Self-concept, the way we perceive ourselves
a. real self what you really are
b. self-image how you look at yourself
c. looking glass self how you think others look at you
d. ideal self what you want to, how do you like to be looked at

II. Output (Perceptual Outputs)
- these are attitudes, opinions and feelings, these output will not only
determine the perceivers behavior but also influence the way perceptual
inputs will be perceived in the future.

III. Reaction (Behavior)
- the perceivers behavior generates responses from the perceived. The
responses constitute a new set of inputs that will be processed to
provide new meaning to the perceive.

How Perception Affects our Behavior
People develop attitudes toward what they perceived. These attitudes are
perceptual outcomes, they influence the perceivers behavior and how he or she
will perceive things in the future.
An ATTITUDE can be defined as set of beliefs, feelings and opinions, that
people hold toward the perceived world. An attitude reflects a persons readiness
to respond to the perceived object or person. It is acquired as a result of
perceptual interpretation. It may be negative, positive or non-existent.

Developing Perceptual Skills
1. Perceiving Oneself Accurately
2. Developing Emphatic Skills
Empathy experience world from others perspective, it involves three
dimensions: (1) perspective taking, (2) emotional dimension, and (3)
genuine concern.
3. Beware of Perceptual Distortions
- one important lesson to learn about perception is that the perceived
world is not necessarily the real world.
4. Managing Impressions
- people often judge another person on how they perceive him or her. In
social settings, how we appear to others is more important that what
we actually are. This is because how we appear to others is what they
know about us. Therefore, we must try to show ourselves in a positive
light in social settings.
5. Do not overlook other peoples behavior.
6. Identify and confront your stereotypes.
7. Evaluate people based on objective factors.
8. Avoid making harsh judgment