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  1. 1. PerceptionMeaning of perception:It is surprising that we receive some objects and reject others. It ise q u a l l y s u r p r i s i n g t h a t a n o b j e c t received is understood differently by differentpeople. Some view a painting as beautiful while others may see the same painting asugly. The answer is perception, a strong component of human organism.Definition:In its simple sense perception is understood as the act of seeing what is there to beseen. But what is seen i s i n f l u e n c e d b y t h e p e r c e i v e r , t h e o b j e c t , a n d t h ee n v i r o n m e n t . T h e m e a n i n g o f p e r c e p t i o n w i l l b e complete when all thethree aspects are stressed. A few definitions of perception are given below: (i) “Perception is the process of becoming aware of situations, of adding meaningful associations to sensations.” (ii) “Perception can be defined as the process of receiving, selecting, organizing, interpreting, checking, and reacting to sensory stimuli or data.” (iii) “Perception can be defined as a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environments.” (iv) “Perception includes all those processes by which an i n d i v i d u a l r e c e i v e s i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t h i s environment - seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. The study of these perceptional processes h o w ’ s t h a t t h e i r f u n c t i o n i n g i s a f f e c t e d by three classes of variables - the objects or events b e i n g perceived, the environment in which perception occurs, and the individual doing the perceiving.Nature & Importance of Perception:We often behave on the basis of what we perceive. What we perceive maynot always be true. In the darkness, we often mistake a rope for a snake andconsequently, we make a hasty retreat or use a stick. No, wonder that half aglass of water is viewed as half empty by some and half full by others.It is nothing but perception wherein one draws relevant information from theenvironment and attaches meaning to it. There are unique differences in theperceptions of individuals even though the perceived object or environment maybe a stable one makes people behave differently.Prepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 1
  2. 2. People appraise different aspects of the environment on the basis of theirindividual experiences an devaluate what they experience in terms of their needsand values.A specific example would be the universal assumption made by managers thatsubordinates always want promotions, when, in fact, many subordinates really feelpsychologically forced to accept a promotion in other words, the perceptual worldof the manager is quite different from the perceptual world of the subordinate,and both may be very different from reality.It is equally surprising that an object received is understood differently by differentpeople. Some view a painting as beautiful while others may see the same painting asugly. Why these phenomena? The answer is perception, a strong component of humanorganism.Every person perceives the world and approaches the life problemsdifferently. This factor is very important in understanding human behavior. We buywhat we like best and what is best. It is because of perception that a particular job mayappear a good job to one and bad to another.If people behave on the basis of their perception then changing behavior in apre determined direction could be made easier by understanding their presentperception of the world.People act as they perceive and different people perceive things differently.People’s perception is determined by their needs.Perception is important dynamite for the manager who wants to avoid making errorswhen dealing with p e o p l e a n d e v e n t s i n t h e w o r k s e t t i n g s . A m a n g e r ’ sresponse to a situation, for example, may be misinterpreted by asubordinate who perceives the situation very differently. In order tod e a l w i t h subordinates effectively, a manager must understand their perceptionproperly.Perceptual Process:Perception process is composed of six processes, viz., receiving, selecting,organizing, interpreting, checking, and reacting to stimuli. These processes are influencedby the perceiver and the situation.Receiving:Perception is a process of receiving and interpreting stimuli. The perceptual processbegins when stimuli are received through sensory organs.These stimuli enter our organism through the sensory organs-vision, hearing, smell,touch, taste. We may not be able to report the existence of certain stimuli, but ourbehaviour reveals that we are often subject to their influence. Stimuli need not beexternal to us they may be internal also. External stimuli include light waves, soundPrepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 2
  3. 3. waves, mechanical energy or pressure, and chemical energy from objects that one cansmell and taste. Internal stimuli include energy generated by muscles, food passingthrough the digestive system, and glands secreting behaviour influencing hormones.Perceptional Selectivity (Selecting Stimuli):The process of filtering information received by our senses is calleds e l e c t i n g s t i m u l i o r s e l e c t i v e attention. Several factors influence selectiveattention. Two sets of factors govern the selection of stimuli: T here are(A) External and (B) Internal.(A) External Factors Influencing Selection:The external factors influencing selection are nature, location, intensity, size, contrast,repetition, motion, and novelty and familiarity.B- Internal factors Influencing Selection:Internal factors influencing selection of stimuli include learning,psychological needs, age differences, interests, ambivalence, and paranoidperception. These factors relate to one self.The Process of Interpreting (Perceptual Errors):After the data have been received and organized, the perceiveri n t e r p r e t s o r a s s i g n s m e a n i n g t o t h e information. In fact, perception issaid to have taken place only after the data have been interpreted. Several,factors contribute towards the interpretation of data. More important amongst them areperceptual set, attribution, stereotyping, halo effect, perceptual context,perceptual defense, implicit personality theory and projection. The Process of CheckingAfter data have been received and interpreted, the perceiver tends to check whether hisinterpretations are right or wrong. One way of checking is for the person himself orherself to indulge in introspection. He or she will put a series of questions tohimself or herself and the answer will confirm whether his or her perceptionabout an individual or object is correct or otherwise. Another way is to checkthe veracity about the interpretation with others.The Process of ReactingThe last phase in the perception is the reaction. The perceiver will indulge in someaction in relation to his or her perception. The action depends on whether the perceptionis favorable or unfavorable. It is positive when the perception is favorable and negativewhen the perception is unfavorable. For example, a worker responds favorably to thePrepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 3
  4. 4. motivational intentions of a manager provided his or her understanding about his orher boss is favorable. The response is negative when his perception of themanager’s behaviour is unfavorable.FACTORS INFLUENCING PERCEPTIONA number of factors operate to shape and sometimes distort perception. These factorscan residei. In the perceiver.ii. In the object or target being perceived oriii. In the context of the situation in which the perception is made.1. Characteristics of the Perceiver: Several characteristics of the perceiver can affectperception. When an individual looks at a target and attempts to interpret what he orshe stands for, that interpretation is heavily influenced by personal characteristics of theindividual perceiver. The major characteristics of the perceiver influencing perceptionare:Attitudes: The perceivers attitudes affect perception. For example, suppose Mr. X isinterviewing candidates for a very important position in his organization — a positionthat requires negotiating contracts with suppliers, most of whom are male. Mr. X mayfeel that women are not capable of holding their own in tough negotiations. This attitudewill doubtless affect his perceptions of the female candidates he interviews.Moods: Moods can have a strong influence on the way we perceive someone. We thinkdifferently when we are happy than we do when we are depressed. In addition, weremember information that is consistent with our mood state better than information thatis inconsistent with our mood state. When in a positive mood, we form more positiveimpressions of others. When in a negative mood, we tend to evaluate othersunfavourably.Motives: Unsatisfied needs or motives stimulate individuals and may exert a stronginfluence on their perceptions. For example, in an organizational context, a boss who isinsecure perceives a subordinates efforts to do an outstanding job as a threat to his orPrepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 4
  5. 5. her own position. Personal insecurity can be translated into the perception that othersare out to "get my job", regardless of the intention of the subordinates.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 inanother person. In contrast, a negative self-concept can lead a perceiver to pick outnegative traits in another person. Greater understanding of self allows us to have moreaccurate perceptions of others.Interest: The focus of our attention appears to be influenced by our interests. Becauseour individual interests differ considerably, what one person notices in a situation candiffer from what others perceive. For example, the supervisor who-has just beenreprimanded by his boss for coming late is more likely to notice his colleagues cominglate tomorrow than he did last week. If you are preoccupied with a personal problem,you may find it hard to be attentive in class.Cognitive Structure: Cognitive structure, an individuals pattern of thinking, also affectsperception. Some people have a tendency to perceive physical traits, such as height,weight, and appearance, more readily. Others tend to focus more on central traits, orpersonality dispositions. Cognitive complexity allows a person to perceive multiplecharacteristics of another person rather than attending to just a few traits.Expectations: Finally, expectations can distort your perceptions in that you will see whatyou expect to see. The research findings of the study conducted by Sheldon S Zalkindand Timothy W Costello on some specific characteristics of the perceiver reveal• Knowing oneself makes it easier to see others accurately.• Ones own characteristics affect the characteristics one is likely to see in others.• People who accept themselves are more likely to be able to see favourable aspectsof other people.• Accuracy in perceiving others is not a single skill. These four characteristics greatlyinfluence how a person perceives others in the environmental situation.Prepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 5
  6. 6. Characteristics of the TargetCharacteristics in the target that is being observed can affect what is perceived.Physical appearance plays a big role in our perception of others. Extremely attractive orunattractive individuals are more likely to be noticed in a group than ordinary lookingindividuals. Motion, sound, size and other attributes of a target shape the way we see it.• Physical appearance plays a big role in our perception of others. The perceiver will notice the targets physical features like height, weight, estimated age, race and gender. Perceivers tend to notice physical appearance characteristics that contrast with the norm, that are intense, or that are new or unusual. Physical attractiveness often colours our entire impression of another person. Interviewers rate attractive candidates more favourably and attractive candidates are awarded higher starting salaries.• Verbal communication from targets also affects our perception of them. We listen to the topics they speak about, their voice tone, and their accent and make judgements based on this input.• Non-verbal communication conveys a great deal of information about the target. The perceiver deciphers eye contact, facial expressions, body movements, and posture all in an attempt to form an impression of the target.• The perceiver, who observes the targets behaviour, infers the intentions of the target. For example, if our manager comes to our office doorway, we think "oh no! He is going to give me more work to do". Or we may perceive that his intention is to congratulate us on a recent success. In any case, the perceivers interpretation of the targets intentions affects the way the perceiver views the target.• Targets are not looked at in isolation; the relationship of a target to its background influences perception because of our tendency to group close things and similar things together.• People, objects or events that are similar to each other also tend to be grouped together. The greater the similarity, the greater the probability we will tend to perceive them as a group.Prepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 6
  7. 7. • Objects that are close to each other will tend to be perceived together rather than separately. As a result of physical or time proximity, we often put together objects or events that are unrelated. For example, employees in a particular department are seen as a group, If two employees of a department suddenly resign, we tend to assume their departures were related when in fact, they might be totally unrelated.The figure below summarizes the factors influencing perception.Characteristics of the Situation• The situation in which the interaction between the perceiver and the target takes place has an influence on the perceivers impression of the target. Meeting a manager in his or her office affects your impression in a certain way that may contrast with the impression you would have formed, had you met the manager in a restaurant. Main factors related to situations are• time• location• lightManaging the Perception ProcessSuccessful managers understand the importance of perception as aninfluencing factor on behaviour and they act accordingly. They are aware ofperceptual distortions and also know that perceptual differences are likely to exist inany situation. As a result, they try to make decisions and take action with atrue understanding of the work situation as it is viewed by all persons concerned. Amanager who is skilled in the perception process will: 1. Have a high level of self-awareness:Individual needs, experience, and expectations can all affect perceptions. Thesuccessful manager knows this and is able to identify when he or she is inappropriatelydistorting a situation because of such perceptual tendencies. 2. Seek information from various sources to confirm or disconfirm personal impressions of a decision situation:The successful manager minimizes the biases of personalp e r c e p t i o n s b y s e e k i n g o u t t h e view points of others. These insights are usedto gain additional perspective on situations and the problems or opportunities theyrepresent. 3. Be empathetic-that is, be able to see a situation as it is perceived by other people:Prepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 7
  8. 8. Different people w i l l d e f i n e t h e s a m e s i t u a t i o n s o m e w h a t d i f f e r e n t l y . T h es u c c e s s f u l m a n a g e r r i s e s a b o v e p e r s o n a l impressions to understandproblems are seen by other people. 4. Influence perceptions of other people when they are drawing incorrect or incomplete impressions of events in the work setting:People act in terms of their perceptions. The successful manager is able toinfluence the perceptions of others so that work events and situations areinterpreted as accurately as possible and to the advantage of all concerned. 5. Avoid common perceptual distortions that bias our views of people and situations:These distortions include the use of stereotypes and halo effects, as well as selectiveperception and projection. Successful managers are self-disciplined and sufficiently self-aware so that the adverse impacts of these distortions are minimized. 6. Avoid inappropriate attributions:Everyone has a tendency to try and explain why events happened the way they did orwhy people behaved as they did. The successful manager is careful toestablish the real reasons why things happen and avoid quick or inappropriateattributions of casualty. 7. Diversity management programmes:As firms globalize themselves, diversity management assumes greaterrelevance. The challenge for corporate executives is to leverage the benefits of thisdiversity while minimizing the perceptual and behavioral problems that tend toaccompany heterogeneity. OB experts have designed diversity managementprogrammes. Typically, these training programmes serve two purposes.First, they communicate the value of diversity.Second, these programmes help participants become aware of their personalbiases and give them more accurate information about people with differentbackgrounds, thus avoiding perceptual distortions. 8 Know yourself:Apply the Johari window to know the real self. A powerful way tom i n i m i z e perceptual biases is to know and become more aware of one’s values,beliefs, and prejudice.BARRIERS/FREQUENTLY USED SHORTCUTS IN JUDGING OTHERSPerceiving and interpreting what others do is burdensome. As a result, individualsdevelop techniques for making, the task more manageable. These techniques are notPrepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 8
  9. 9. foolproof. Several factors lead us to form inaccurate impressions of others. Thesebarriers to perception are inaccurate impressions of others. These barriers to perceptionare:1. Selective Perception: We receive a vast amount of information. Therefore, it isimpossible for us to assimilate everything we see - only certain stimuli can be takennote of. That is why, the boss may reprimand some employees for doing something that— when done by another employee — goes unnoticed. Since we cant observeeverything going on about us, we engage in selective perception.Selective perception is also our tendency to choose information that supports ourviewpoints; individuals often ignore information that makes them feel uncomfortable orthreatens their viewpoints.Selective perception allows us to "speed-read" others, but not without the risk ofdrawing an inaccurate picture. Because we see what we want to see, we can drawunwarranted conclusions from an ambiguous situation. Our perception tends to beinfluenced more by an individuals attitudes, interests, and background than by thestimulus itself.2. Stereotype: A stereotype is a generalization about a group of people. When wejudge someone on the basis of our perception of the group to which he or she belongs,we are using the shortcut called stereotyping. Stereotypes reduce information aboutother people to a workable level, and they are efficient for compiling and usinginformation. It is a means of simplifying a complex world and it permits us to maintainconsistency. It is less difficult to deal with an unmanageable number of stimuli if we usestereotypes. Stereotypes can be accurate, and when they are accurate, they can beuseful perceptual guidelines. However, most of the time, stereotypes are inaccurate.Attractiveness is a powerful stereotype. We assume that attractive individuals are alsowarm, kind, sensitive, poised, sociable, outgoing, independent, and strong. Areattractive people alwaysPrepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 9
  10. 10. warm, kind, intelligent, sociable, outgoing, independent, and strong? Are attractivepeople really like this? Certainly all of them are not.In organizations, we frequently hear comments that represent stereotypes based ongender, age, nationality, etc. From a perceptual standpoint, if people expect to see thisstereotype, that is what they will perceive, whether its accurate or not.3. Halo Effect: The halo error in perception is very similar to stereotyping. Whereas instereotyping the person is perceived according to a single category, under the haloeffect the person is perceived on the basis of one trait.When we draw a general impression about an individual based on a singlecharacteristic, such as intelligence, sociability or appearance, a halo effect is operating.The propensity for the halo effect to operate is not random. Research suggests it islikely to be most extreme when the traits to be perceived are ambiguous in behaviouralterms, when the traits have moral overtones, and when the perceiver is judging traitswith which he or she has limited experience. Example of halo effect is the extremelyattractive secretary who is perceived by her male boss as being intelligent, and a goodperformer, when, in fact, she is a poor typist.4. First-impression error: Individuals place a good deal of importance on firstimpressions. First impressions are lasting impressions. We tend to remember what weperceive first about a person, and sometimes we are quite reluctant to change our initialimpressions. First-impression error means the tendency to form lasting opinions aboutan individual based on initial perceptions. Primacy effects can be particularly dangerousin interviews, given that we form first impressions quickly and that these impressionsmay be the basis for long-term employment relationships.5. Contrast Effect: Stimuli that contrast with the surrounding environment are morelikely to be selected for attention than stimuli that blend in. A contrasting effect can becaused by colour, size or any other factor that is unusual (any factor that distinguishesone stimulus from others at present). For example, a man walking down the street witha pair of crutches is more attention grabbing than the usual variety of pedestrian. Acontrast effect is the evaluation of a persons characteristics that are affected byPrepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 10
  11. 11. comparisons with other people recently encountered that rank higher or lower on thesame characteristics. The "contrast" principle essentially states that external stimuli thatstand out against the background or which are not what are expecting, will receive theirattention. The contrast effect also explains why a male student stands out in a crowd offemale students. There is nothing unusual about the male student but, when surroundedby females, he stands out.An illustration of how contrast effects operate is an interview situation in which one seesa pool of job applicants. Distortions in any given candidates evaluation can occur as aresult of his or her place in the interview schedule. The candidate is likely to receive amore favourable evaluation if preceded by mediocre applicants, and a less favourableevaluation if preceded by strong applicants.6. Projection: It is easy to judge others if we assume they are similar to us. Thistendency to attribute ones own characteristics to other people is called projection.Projection can distort perceptions made about others. People who engage in projectiontend to perceive others according to what they are like, rather than according to whatthe person being observed is really like. When managers engage in projection, theycompromise their ability to respond to individual differences. They tend to see people asmore homogeneous than they really are.7. Implicit Personality Theories: We tend to have our own mini-theories about howpeople look and behave. These theories help us organize our perceptions and takeshortcuts instead of integrating new information all the time. Implicit-personality theory isopinions formed about other people that are based on our own mini-theories about howpeople behave. For example, we believe that girls dressed in fashionable clothes willlike modern music and girls dressed in traditional dress, like a saree, will like Indianclassical music. These implicit personality theories are barriers because they limit outability to take in new information: when it is available.8. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Self-fulfilling prophecies are situations in which ourexpectations about people affect our interaction with them in such a way that ourexpectations are fulfilled. Self-fulfilling prophecy it also known as the Pygmalion effect,Prepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 11
  12. 12. named after a sculptor in Greek mythology who carved a statue of a girl that came to lifewhen he prayed for this boon and it was granted.The Pygmalion effect has been observed in work organizations as well. A managersexpectations of an individual affect both the managers behaviour toward the individualand the individuals response. For example, suppose a manager has an initialimpression of an employee as having the potential to move up within the organization,Chances are that the manager will spend a great deal of time coaching and counsellingthe employee, providing challenging assignments and grooming the individual forsuccess. Attribution theoryMeaning of Attribution:Attribution is an important concept for understanding perception, as it is related tojudging the causes of others behaviour. An inaccurate attribution may lead toinaccurate perception. Our perceptions of what is happening in the environment dependvery much on the attributions we make.Attribution refers to the tendency one develops to explain the ways in which one judgesother peoples behaviour. Very often we make attempts to understand the more lastingcauses behind others actions by interpreting their traits, motives and intentions throughthe attribution process. Simply stated Attribution is the complex process in which weobserve others behaviour a nd try to infer causes behind it from various areas.ATTRIBUTION THEORY:Attribution-theory has been proposed to develop explanations of the ways in which wejudge people differently, depending on what meaning we attribute to a given behaviour.Attribution is a perceptual process. The way we explain success of failure - whether ourown or that of another person - affects our feelings and our subsequent behaviour.Harold Kelley extended artribution theory by trying to identify the antecedents of internaland external attributions.Prepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 12
  13. 13. Causes of behaviour:The theory suggests that when we observe an individuals behaviour, we attempt todetermine whether it was internally or externally caused.i) Internal attributions: Attributions can be made to an internal source of responsibility.That means something within the individuals control. For example, suppose youperform well in your MBA examination, you might say you did well because you aresmart or because you studied hard. If you attribute your success to ability or effort, youare citing an internal source. Examples of the internal attributions are personal attributessuch as ability, skills, amount of effort, fatigue.ii) External Attributions: Attributions can be made to an external source ofresponsibility. That means something outside the individuals control. For example,suppose you perform well in your MBA examination you might say the examination waseasy or that you had good luck. In this case, you are attributing your performance tosources beyond your control or external attributions.Kelley proposed that individuals make attributions based on information gathered in theform of three informational cues. Examples of the external attributions areorganisational rules and policies, the manner of superiors, the weather.Factors influencing internal and external causes:1. Distinctiveness: Distinctiveness is the degree to which the person displays differentbehaviour in different situations. What we want to know is, if this behaviour is unusual ornot. If the employee who arrives late today also the one coworker say regularly. Whatwe want to know is whether this behaviour is unusual. If it is, the observer is likely togive the behaviour an external attribution. If this action is not unusual, it will probably bejudged as internal.2. Consensus: Consensus is the extent to which peers in the same situation behavethe same way. In other words, if everyone who is faced with a similar situation respondsPrepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 13
  14. 14. in the same way, we can say the behaviour shows consensus. If everybody in the samecircumstance behaves in the same way, you would be given an external attribution,whereas if a single employee behaves in a particular way, your conclusion would beinternal.E.g. The behaviour of our tardy employee meets this criterion if all employees who tookthe same route to work were also late. From an attribution perspective if consensus ishigh, you would probably give an external attribution to the employee’s tardiness, whereas if other employees’ who took the same route made it to work on time, you wouldattribute his lateness to an internal cause.The figure below summarizes the key elements in attribution theory.Prepared By Mrs Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 14