Perception: Meaning, Steps, Importance, Errors and Influencing Factors

What is Perception?

Perception is a process utilized by people for regarding, analyzing, retrieving and reacting to any type of information available in environment. It is simply the set of processes which you use for making sense of all stimuli you encounter at every point of time. Perception is composed of fix senses namely touch, smell, sound, taste and sight. This process also includes set of senses which enable in detecting changes in body posture and movements, that is referred to as proprioception. It helps us in understanding and acquiring information regarding every element and properties of environment which are critical to our survival. Not only perception forms our experience of world around us, but also allow us to act within our environment. The cognitive process needed for information processing, be it recognition of friend’s face or identifying a familiar scent is all supported by perception.

Process of perception involve series of steps initiating with environment and leads to our stimulus perception and action in response to stimulus. It takes place on continuous basis, although you did not spend a great deal of time thinking regarding actual process taking place when you perceive numerous stimuli surrounding at any given period of time. Overall, the perception allows people in experiencing as well as interacting with world around them that is both meaningful and suitable.

Steps of Perception Process

The steps involved in the process of perception are as discussed in points given below: –


Selection is a first step in process of perception which is concerned with making decision of which stimuli to attend. There are infinite number of stimuli present all over the world which we might attend and it is impossible for our brain to pay attention to each of them. Selection involves making choices out of stimuli which attract our attention. Here in this step, a focus is made in order to attend certain incoming sensatory information. When attention is paid by us to any one specific thing in environment, be it smell, sound, feeling or anything else present entirely then it becomes an attended stimulus.

Our five senses

smell, touch, taste, sight and sound help in focusing on stimuli present in environment. Information is taken via these senses only and once information comes in, there are numerous factors which determine what will actually continues on via process of perception.


Organization is second stage in perception process which begins once the stimuli to be attended is chosen by us. A series of reactions gets set off in our brain through our choice of stimuli. This neural mechanism initiates with activation of our sensory receptors that are hear, touch, taste, sight and smell. 

Under this step of perception, we generally sort and categorize information perceived by us on the basis of innate and learned cognitive patterns. There are mainly three basis which are used by us for sorting things: similarity, proximity and difference.


It is the last stage of perception process taking place after stimuli is chosen and, information is received and organized by brain. Interpretation is concerned with interpreting received information by brain about the world in such a way that makes sense. It is all about taking sensed and categorized information, and turning it into form which we can categorize. We are able to understand as well as respond to world surrounding us via putting stimuli into categories.

Perception process of others consist of sensing, organizing and interpreting information regarding peoples, and what they use to say and do. Main characteristic of perception is sensation which relates to outside input. At first, what need to be perceived is chosen by perceiver. Organization step takes place after this where type of sound is identified by listener who then do comparison of it with other type of sounds heard in past.

The most subjective areas of perception are interpretation and categorization which consists of decisions regarding whether what is heard by listeners is liked by them and willing to keep listening.

Selection, organization and interpretation stages of perception differs from one person to another. The output of perceiver that are attitude, behaviour, values etc. may also differ. So, considering all of this, if peoples respond differently in different situations, then their part of behaviour can be explained via evaluating their perceptual process.

Importance of Perception

Perception is a key process which enables organism in detecting as well as interpreting information from external world via means of sensory receptors. It is through this; we are able to understand the elements and properties of environment which are important for our survival. Not only we are able to create experience of world surrounding us, but also act within our environment due to perception process. 

The importance of perception can be more clearly understood from points given below: – 

Understanding human Behavior

Perception is a key tool available in order to understand the human behaviour adequately. This is because each and every person perceives world and approaches life problems in different manner. It is not always necessary that whatever is felt or seen by us is exactly the same what it is in reality. When anything is purchased by us is not due to its best quality, but because of the fact that we took it to be best. Therefore, it is due to perception that it can be easily pointed out why one person is satisfied with job and another one is dissatisfied with same job. 

Prediction of Behavior

It is quite easy to predict the people’s behaviour via understanding their perception. Generally, peoples behave on the basis of perception, so under such scenarios, we can predict behaviour via their present perception of environment. The same facts may be seen in distinct ways by two persons.   

Determination of people needs

The determination of people’s needs is possible with the help of perception. It is because needs of people get influenced by their way of perception. Like, for instance, at amusement park, there are mirrors which distort world in relation to their tensions. 

Assist manager in avoiding errors

Perception is of utmost importance for managers willing to be error free while dealing with peoples and events in their working life. The situation gets more problematic as well as complicated because of the fact that same situation is perceived in distinct way by people. Therefore, managers for dealing effectively with their subordinates should understand their perception in proper manner.

Gaining new perspective

Perception helps in gaining new perspective about things. If we want to see things from other’s point of view or simply want to walk in their shoes for while then perception serve the purpose here. When we see things from other’s perception then we gain new insight which helps a lot in understanding others and helping them more appropriately.

Builds character

The perception builds character, be it good or bad which defines the distinct roles in which an individual falls into. These are the clown, the victim, the self-righteous, the hypocrite etc.

Hence, perception is of great importance if we want to understand human behaviour like how they perceive under distinct situations. The behavior of peoples is dependent upon their perception of what reality is, not a reality itself.

Types of Perception Errors

Perceptual error is simply defined as the inability to judge humans, situation or things in fair or adequate manner. It includes biasness, stereotype, prejudice etc. which all leads human behaviour toward error in distinct aspects of their life. These errors have great impact on organization as they can hamper the adequate decision-making skills while doing performance appraisal, hiring, review and feedback.

Different types of perceptual errors are explained in points given below: – 


illusion is error which mean false perception where person will mistake a stimulus and perceive it in wrong manner. Examples of illusion are a rope which is mistaken as snake in dark, an unknown person standing at distance is perceived as friend and voice of any not known person being mistaken as friend’s voice.

Selective perception

Selective perception is a situation where interpretation is done selectively by individual on the basis of their interest, experience, attitudes, idea and background. It is simply the likeliness of forgetting and not noticing stimuli which cause emotional discomfort. It is not possible to take in and understand everything we see around us due to which only few stimuli can be taken in.


Stereotyping error involves making positive or negative generalization based on inaccurate beliefs and assumptions about a group of people. It is simply using shortcut to judge about someone on the basis of our perception about them. For example, rich people are cruel to poor, Girls are very talkative as compared to boys, etc.

Halo effect

Halo effect involves making general impression about individual on the basis of single characteristic such as appearance, laziness, intelligence, sociability etc. Here, a uniform low or high rating is given to person in his/her other traits if he/she is extraordinarily low or high in one specific trait. For example, lazy person has such impression by everyone that he can’t be punctual at any occasion.


Project is very common perceptual error in which person projects his/her personality, behaviour and attitude in some other person. Like for an honest person, everyone seems to be honest by him.

Contrast effect

Contrast effect is tendency of rating peoples in relation to some other people instead on the basis of their individual performance level. Individuals are judged here in comparison to other individuals. Such things are more common in academics, sports and performance review.

The similar-to-me effect

This effect reflects the tendency of showing favor or liking people who are similar to us in any way. Suppose an interviewer from Delhi is taking interview of 2 peoples, one is from Delhi and another is from Lucknow then he/she is going to give more preference to Delhi candidate. 

Perceptual defense

The way of perceiving things is defended by peoples which once get established become impossible for them to change. Peoples are highly resistant to change once they acquire a particular way of viewing the world. Such error leads to inability of manager to perceive the things adequately and creative solving of problems. 


Hallucination is a phenomenon where such stimulus is perceived by individuals which is not even present. A person may hear sound, see person or object but in reality, there is no sound or objects in reality.

Fundamental attribution error

This error is likeliness of underestimating the impact of external factors and overestimating the impact of internal factors while forming judgement on other’s behaviour.

Factors Influencing Process of Perception

Various factors influencing the process of perception are as listed below: – 

Individual differences

Each and every person differ from one another in one or different way. All persons bring in distinct attitudes to team. One individual may like working in collaboration while other one like to work in isolation. Each one of these differences have impact on perception of team as well as organization. Behaviour of one person working with his/her coworkers will be different from someone else. The way person perceives his/her co-worker determines how their bond of work will be. Therefore, in order to ensure harmony in team, it is must to respect the individual differences of team members.


The way of perceiving things got influenced by level of motivation. Like suppose, a person wishes to take admission in top business school for MBA for which he/she need to work for some time in order to gain adequate experience. You will be more likely to put enough efforts for fulfilling your requirements and getting positive feedback. So, your way of approaching situation gets influenced by motivation level.  

Past experiences

Past experiences of person plays a key role in shaping what he will be today. It is significant factor affecting perception and can’t be separated from individuals. Past experiences shape our opinions, personal bias, expectations from other as well as from ourselves. When situations got change, it is important to be open to change our perceptions.

External factors

Not only the internal or personal factors influence perception, but external factors too affect it. The external factors affecting perception are people thinking about us, expectation of others and cultural norms like taboos or rules society follows.