Features of the perception process

Perception in simple term is how people see things. The book defines perception as a process which a person takes to mean the sensory systems and how he or she gives meanings to the environment they belong.

This report analyses the features of the perception process and illustrates the ways an individual’s perception affect other people, group and organization. This analyses the theories and concepts of perception and the impact of them. Related concepts are defined; the impact and the importance of the concepts are discussed in relation to individual, group and organization.

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The report includes definitions for perception, factors affecting perception, attribution theory and errors, short ways of making decisions using perceptions, decision making and perception, and overall importance and impact of perception on individuals, groups and organization. The concepts are explained through examples and directly interpreted with perception.

2.0 Discussion

2.1 Perception

Perception may be defined as the process by which an individual selects, organizes and interprets stimuli into a meaningful and coherent picture of the environment in which he lives. (Behav, 2010)

According to Robbins, Millet, & Waters-Marsh (2004) perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.

The definition explains that an individual takes in the raw data through his senses and them, refines, modifies or completely alters it by his cognitive process and he gives a meaning to the environment to make them comfortable. Also the environment should be meaningful to exist.

Perception is a complex cognitive process and differs from one individual to another, depending on the needs, value and expectations of the individual. Sometimes an individual’s perception may be far removed from the reality. Perceptual differences between individuals can sometimes lead to conflicts in the organization. Also in some cases Perceptions may also differ from organization to organization.

The way of seeing this picture, interpreting and giving meaning differs person to person.

2.2 Factors affecting perception

Perception can be affected by several factors. The following diagram shows the factors which affects an individual’s perception.

The individual’s personal traits are the main determinants of his/her perception. The attitudes, motives, interests, experience and an expectation differs person to person. These traits will influence an individual way of seeing thing, interpreting and giving meaning to the environment.

Another main factor which influences perception is the traits or the characteristics of the target. The influencing attributes are motion, sound, size, proximity and novelty. For example, People who are loud or very tall or attractive are more likely to be noticed in a crowd.

Even though in some cases the target is not been seen but the target will be compared to a same target which has the same attributes. For example, People identify the police as unforgiving people, doctors as saviors and soldiers as patriotic

The third main influencer is the situation characteristics which are time, work environment and social environment. The environment and the situation play a major part in individual’s perception. For example if a person wearing a Cultural dress walks into a temple, he will not attract attention from his co worker, who may have come to the same temple, but if he does so in office he will attract attention.

2.3 Person perception: Attribution theory

Attribution theory can be defined as, a method that can be used for evaluation how people perceive the behavior of themselves and other people. It is about how people make casual explanations. (Aswathappa, 2005) Attribution theory also suggests that we observe an individual’s behavior and attempt to determine whether it was caused internally or externally. However that particular determinant depends on three main factors:




Internally caused behaviors are those that are believed to be under the personal control of the individual. Externally caused behavior is viewed as resulting from outside sources.

For example if Mr. Anderson an employee of Mr. Smith came late to a meeting, Mr. Smith may attribute this lateness due to a late night out the previous day and falling asleep through the ringing of the daily alarm clock. This would be recognized as an internal attribution. However if Mr. Smith were to attribute Mr. Anderson’s late arrival due to an roadway collision or a tree falling down across the road of the usual route he take to work, then Mr. Smith would be taking an external attribution.

If one were to take into consideration distinctiveness, which refers to whether an individual displays different behaviors in different situations, according to Robbins, Millet, & Waters-Marsh (2004, p.134). We could see if this same employee who was late for the meeting is also the reason behind the delayed shipments and the focal point of the fellow employees as being a “slacker”? If this is so the question Mr. Smith needs to ask himself would be whether this behavior is unusual. If it is so, then it is likely to determine that the behavior is due to external attribution. If not then Mr. Smith could put it down as to internal attribution.

According to Robbins, Millet, & Waters-Marsh (2004, p.134) if everyone who is faced with a similar situation responds in the same way, we can safely say the behavior shows consensus. From an attribution perspective if all the other employees who also took the same route were also to be late to the meeting as Mr. Anderson it would be expected to be looked as due to external attribution. However what if the other employees who took the same route made it to work on time? Then the only cause for Mr. Anderson’s lateness would be due to internal attribution.

The final factor consistency looks at a person’s actions. The question to be asked would be, does Mr. Anderson respond the same way over time? If this behavior by Mr. Anderson is a consistent behavior then Mr. Smith would be inclined to attribute it to internal causes. However coming late to work/meeting is not looked the same way for an individual to whom it is an unusual incident as it is for an employee to whom it’s a routine pattern.

Looking more in an employee’s perspective, what if your boss (Mr. Smith in this example) is cranky and extremely difficult during the meeting? If the employee was to think this is due to a hard day’s work the previous day or a bad night’s sleep, it would be recognized as internal attribution. However if the employee were to attribute this fact due to the delayed shipments to meet deadlines/incompetent staff not meeting required goals then it would be looked as external attribution.

Likewise if Mr. Smith who is cranky and difficult during the meeting is also the reason behind why employees are not able to work to their full potential and is known as a “dictator”, the question that needs to be asked is if this behavior is unusual. If so then it is likely to be due to external attribution and vice versa.

If all the managers present during the meeting are in the same behavioral pattern as Mr. Smith then it would be looked as external attribution. And if not the only cause behind Mr. Smith’s behavior would be internal attribution.

The final question to be asked would be does Mr. Smith respond the same way over time? If Mr. Smith’s behavior is consistent then the employees could attribute it to internal causes.

Importance of attribution theory and how it affects others

Attribution theory occupies the way people understand the basis of behavior, and it focuses on the perceived understanding of behavior, explaining the process by which the individual comes to recognize his or her own behavior and that of others. An organization should identify the reason behind an employee’s actions. The organization should not make a sudden decision on an employee’s perception; it should use the attribution theory and fin the factor which influenced that action. Then depending on the factor whether it’s external or internal, the organization can identify the way of dealing that behavior.

2.4 Errors and biases in attribution

Fundamental attribution theory is the tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence in internal factor when making judgments of the behavior of others. (Robbins, Millet, & Waters-Marsh, 2004)

This is a critical issue for individual, group and the organization. When an action of a person is undesirable most of the times the perception would be based on his or her personal traits irrelevant to the real factor of that action. For example when an employee gets late to the office rapidly the perception on his action would seen based on his internal character without analyzing the external factors incurred which are uncontrollable.

Self- serving biased is the tendency for individuals to attribute their own successes to internal factors and put the blame for failures on the external factors. (Aswathappa, 2005)

This situation really affects an individual’s career where he or she fails to identify the real factor of that result. When an individual fails to identify the reasons for his or her failure the same result will be gained in the future. This will affect individual’s productivity and the efficiency of the organization. Also when a manger successfully achieves a task its clear he or achieve the success with the support his or her subordinates. The manager should appreciate his external factors rather than appreciating his internal traits. If the manager fails to do so it will lead the subordinates to de motivation.

2.5 Frequently used shortcuts in judging others

Selective perception occurs when people select for perception those things that are consistent with their views of themselves and the world, and reject or argue against those that are inconsistent. (Robbins et al., 2009)

This simply when people make decisions they consider only the known attributes, interest, background and experience of the behavior and they don’t argue or consider the things which are unfamiliar to them.

Halo effect is the process of generalizing from an overall evaluation of an individual to specific characteristics of the person. (Aswathappa, 2005)

In businesses, the halo effects frequently take place when manager rate subordinates in a performance evaluation. In this situation, a manager appraising one of his or her staff on specific aspects may believes that someone who is good in one aspect should also be good at other things and rate the person greatly on other aspects. It happens in the negative way also.

Stereotyping is the belief that all members of a specific groups share related characteristics and behavior. (Robbins et al., 2009)But in real situation individual is unique, the real traits of the person are generally quite different from those that stereotype would suggest. This plays a great role in increasing individual’s efficiency in making good judgment out of his or her environment. Also it can lead to factual errors and harmful consequences. When injustice for social increase in stereo typing the decision will be poor and will lead to inefficiency in utilizing the human resources.

2.6 Perception and decision making

Decisions are mostly based on individual’s perception. A decision is made due to solve a problem. A problem can be defined as a discrepancy between the current state of affairs and some desired stage. A decision is choices made out of the alternatives. There are several decision making models related to perceptions.

Rational decision making describes how individuals behave in order to increase outcome. Bounded rationality is a model that where decisions are made by developing simple models which reveals the important features from the problem without addressing the complexity of the problem. (Rebecca et al., 2008)

These are important ways to make quick decision using perception.

2.7 Importance of perception and the way perception affects the individual, groups and organization. (Overall analysis)

Perceived reality, not actual reality is the key to understanding behavior. How we perceive others and ourselves is at the root of our actions and intentions. Understanding the perceptual process and being aware of it difficulties is necessary for developing the skill of managing others. The words used and the body language displayed communicates individuals view of the world. The influence of the perceptual process in guiding the behavior needs to be discharged and understood for successful relationships with others.

Applying perception to OB

What is OB?

It is a social science discipline much like cultural anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology. That means that it uses the scientific method to establish truth and to validate its theories” (Aswathappa, 2005)

Organizational behavior could be further explained as “a field of study which investigates the impact that individuals, groups, organizations have on behavior within organizations for the purpose of applying such knowledge towards improving and organizations effectiveness” (Robbins, Millet, & Waters-Marsh, 2004, p.9) The study of Organizational Behavior offers many theories and concepts. And many of these theories could be could be used by both managers as well as employees as well. However using these theories in practice is not always a simple task. However the use of these theories and concepts in the real working environment by managers and employees would enable them to reek benefits above and beyond contributing to personal enrichment as well as the organizations overall well being.

People perceive reality as what they think not the actual reality and People response to conditions based upon their perception. Therefore, understanding the differences in the perceptions of individuals will help in understanding their organizational behavior better.

As discussed under the factors influencing perception, individual’s perception on a same target could be different because of those attributes. Every worker in the organization has their own perception toward an action or a situation. This is especially important in


Performance Expectations

Performance Evaluation

In interviews the individual perception of the interviewer can influence his decision. If a manger is conducting an interview Perception can help the manager to recruit the best fit or Perceptual biases can affect the accuracy of interviewers’ judgments of applicants. In the expectations of the performance the Perception can help the manager to make the most effective judgments on the expectation. Perception can help the manager to make the most effective performance appraisal of the employee in performance evaluation. At the mean time Appraisals can be subjective perceptions of performance.

The reality is there should be a perception which is accepted by the organizational employees to do a task in that organization or nothing can be done. The individual’s perception differs and these differences help them to do things in different ways to make the organization success. If the manager has good perception in any department of the organization, the department team will have safe solutions with risky ideas. The use of individual’s perception helps the organization in finding creative solutions for the problems, to increase productivity, creativity and cognitive thinking.

In organization context the individual’s perception is important for several reasons. Individualism – collectivism, the degree to which the individual have a perception to act as a group or the individual. In the case of power distance, the acceptances of large differences in power among individuals are different due to their perception on each another. The perception on a manager would create an issue when he is controlling the subordinates. To be time oriented, to avoid uncertainty and understanding the culture.

3. Conclusion

Our perceptions in the workplace are biased by our experience, the culture, our education, and socialization. We tend to make assumptions and act on our perceptions as if they were objective truth that was obvious to everyone. We rarely check the accuracy or validity of our assumptions People make inferences about others and situations without regard to factual information.

Individual’s behaviors are based on what they see but not on the actual situation. The employees perceive the efforts of an organization or their manager based on how a manager or the organization successfully plan and organize the work of employees and actually help them to do their work in and effective and efficient manner. Employees judge issues such as fair pay for work they perform, the diplomatic of performance appraisal, the working situations, and privileges. If the perception of an individual is negative it will affect the individual’s performance and the organizations productivity. If the perception is good the performance of individual and the productivity of the organization will increase.

The report has analyzed the features of perception process and discussed the ways how individual’s perspective can affect other people, group and the organization.

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