HUMAN Perception


Jun 12, 2015
Perception is the active process of creating meaning by selecting, organizing, and interpreting people, objects, events, situations, and other phenomena. We do not passively receive what is “out there” in the external world. Instead, we actively work to make sense of ourselves, others, and interactions. To do so, we select only certain things to notice, and then we organize and interpret what we have selectively noticed. What anything means to us depends on the aspects of it we notice and on our organization and inter- pretation of those aspects. Thus, perception is not a simple matter of receiving external reality. Instead, we invest a lot of energy in constructing the meanings of phenomena.

Perception consists of three processes: selecting, organizing, and interpreting. These processes are continuous, so they blend into one another. They are also interactive, so each of them affects the other two. For example, what we select to per- ceive in a particular situation affects how we organize and interpret the situation. At the same time, how we organize and interpret a situation affects our subsequent selections of what to perceive in the situation.

Stop for a moment and notice what is going on around you right now. Is there music in the background? Is the room warm or cold, messy or neat, large or small, light or dark? Can you smell anything - food being cooked, the stale odor of last night’s popcorn, traces of cologne? Can you hear muted sounds of activities outside? Now, think about what’s happening inside you: Are you sleepy, hungry, comfortable? Do you have a headache or an itch anywhere? On what kind of paper is your book printed? Is the type large, small, easy to read? How do you like the size of the book, the colors used, the design of the pages? If you’re reading an e-book, is the screen resolution good? How do the colors and print look? Probably you weren’t aware of most of these phenomena when you began reading the chapter. Instead, you focused on understanding the content in the book.

You narrowed your attention to what you defined as important, and you were unaware of other aspects of the book and your surroundings. This is typical of how we live our lives. We can’t attend to everything in our environment so we focus on what we decide is relevant to us in any given moment. We select to attend to certain stimuli based on a number of factors. First, some qualities of phenomena draw attention. For instance, we notice things that STAND OUT because they are larger, more intense, or more unusual than other phenomena. So we’re more likely to hear a loud voice than a soft one and to notice bright, flashy ads on the Internet than a black-and-white because they stand out from all the rest. Change also compels attention, which is why we may take for granted all the pleasant interactions with a friend and notice only the tense moments.

Once we have selected what to notice, we must make sense of it. We organize what we have noticed and attribute meaning to it. A useful theory for explaining how we organize experience is constructivism, which states that we organize and interpret experience by applying cognitive structures called schemata We rely on four schemata to make sense of interpersonal phenomena :- Prototypes, Personal constructs, Stereotypes, and Scripts.


Even after we have selectively perceived phenomena and used cognitive schemata to organize our perceptions, what they mean to us is not clear. There are no intrinsic meanings in phenomena. Instead, we assign meaning by interpreting what we have noticed and organized. Interpretation is the subjective process of explaining our perceptions in ways that make sense to us. To interpret the meaning of another’s actions, we construct explanations, or attributions, for them.

Attributions An attribution is an explanation of why something happened or why someone acts a certain way. Attributions have four dimensions.


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