Perception : What are the three stages of perception?

Introduction to Perception

Perception is defined as a set of processes used by humans to make sense of all the stimuli that we face. It is basically an interpretation about the situation we are in and it can range from the smell of the garden you are in to the sight of beautiful birds flying up in the sky. It all depends on how we interpret all these different sensations. These senses are nothing but sensory impressions we get from the stimuli in the world around us. It is perception which enables us and gives us the ability to navigate the world. It helps make decisions about everything, from which T-shirt to wear, which restaurant to go to or how fast to run away from a tiger.

Suppose we close your eyes. The thoughts that run in your mind are nothing but accumulation of data. And in this data, majority of it is perception. The things you see, smell, hear and feel and you make sense out of it and this process of using your stimuli and getting an impression and making an interpretation is perception. It is an unconscious process which keeps happening as and when we come across a stimuli.

The Perception Process

This process of perception is such that it always begins with a stimulus which happens every second around us and then it ends with what we interpret from that stimulus. The very amazing thing about it is that it is an unconscious process which happens at a subtle level thousand times a day and we don’t even realize it. Now one may ask what an unconscious process is, so to make it clear an unconscious process is simply one that happens without awareness or intention.
For example, the brain need not be told that it is hungry, or it is cold outside.

What are the Stages involved in Perception process ?

Perception has three stages, namely selection, organization and interpretation. We will see each of the following in detail.


Selection comes into the picture when there are many things and we can’t take in so much as the capacity of the brain is less therefore, we have to select the stimuli. That was in layman words. Talking about perception, the world that we live in is filled with an infinite number of stimuli that we might attend to, but our brains do not have the resources to pay attention to everything. So, our first step is Selection which means selecting what we would like to attend to. This is usually unconscious, but sometimes intentional decision. The stimuli that we select , it may be smell, sight, voice , touch or any sense perception, that becomes an attended stimuli. This is selection, the very first process of what we call as perception.


The choice that we make sets off a series of reactions in our brain once we have chosen to attend to a stimulus in the environment. This might be unconscious but most of the time its conscious. The process of the nerves is called the neural process and it starts with the activation of our sensory receptors. These receptors are nothing but touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. After the activation, the receptor transforms the energy into an activity which after being tr transmitted to our brains, becomes a mental represented created by us. This representation is called as precept. At a single point in time, we can create multiple precepts.


The last stage is of interpretation which happens after we have attended to a stimulus. After the organization of the information that our brain has received we interpret it in a way that makes sense using our existing information about the world. And then we turn it to something we can analyze and understand. This happens unconsciously thousands of times a day.
Thus, to conclude in a simple and apt way we can say that perception is organizing, identifying and then interpreting the information we get from the various stimuli and then represent and understand the world around.

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