What is Perception in Organizational Behavior ?

Perception is the process of receiving, selecting, interpreting and organising information so that it fits into the framework of knowledge we have of our environment.

Perceptual Process

  1. Receiving Stimuli- Our environment presents us with different kinds of stimulus which is received by our five senses like sight, smell, taste, touch and feel.
  2. Selecting stimuli- It is not possible for us to take in the entire stimulus provided so we select them. Sometimes a brain can be trained to select a particular stimulus in all situations. Like a fireman always reacts to the emergency siren or a receptionist to the ringing of a telephone. A lot of stimuli in nature also often go unnoticed by us like the sound that insects make at night.
  3. Organising information- Information received is put together or organised to form a meaning which forms perception.
  4. Interpreting information- Interpreting requires understanding information after organising it so that it fits into our existing framework of knowledge.
  5. Checking and reacting- Once information is interpreted the receiver checks the validity and correctness of his thinking and reacts accordingly.

Perceptual Distortions

Perceptual distortions affect our interpretation of stimuli received to a great extent. A few examples of perceptual distortions are- Attribution means assigning a cause to a particular event. When we attribute a cause to a particular event, we are forming a perception about it. For example an employee doesn't complete his work before the deadline. In this case not finishing work can be attributed to laziness of the employee which is an internal attribute or it can be externally attributed that is enough time and accurate information was not provided by the management to the employee.

Halo Effect occurs when a person judges the other person based on a single characteristic they possess like the way they dress, their sociability or their grades in academics.

Stereotyping.When we judge others based on the group they belong to we stereotype them. This grouping is done based on race, colour, community, ethnicity etc. Stereotypes makes it easier for one to initially perceive a person he or she meets but it always might not be true. So we must consider stereotypes as they can sometimes be useful but never let it overpower our judgement in understanding others.

Projection.People tend to perceive others character as similar to their own. For example a manager might be under the impression that financial incentives and promotions are what his subordinate wants because those are the incentives the manager himself would desire. But these incentives might not be strongly desired by the subordinate because what he really needs is flexibility and a more creative or challenging job.

Selective Perception is the tendency of people to perceive what they want to and often ignore the facts presented before them. For example an employee perceives his manager to be unfair and someone who overuses his power he will always believe his manager to be so even if the manager tries to improve his relations with his subordinate.

Perceptual Organisation

Perceptual organisation consists of principles which ease the process of organisation of elements by giving them a pattern. The following are a few principles-

Proximity refers to grouping of elements that are close to each other. Here proximity refers to proximity of elements in perceptual organisation. If there are more than three objects in an image then the objects that have minimum horizontal and vertical distance between each other are grouped together.

Similarity.Things that are look similar are grouped together. For example in a table of different shapes, similar looking shapes are seen together.

Common fate Things that move together are grouped together. Like flock of birds in the sky are perceived to be grouped together. Continuation is the tendency to perceive smooth continuity in a figure. When we see an 'x' we perceive it as a smooth continuation of crossing lines rather than two inverted 'v' s.

Closure.In a set of geometrically possible figures in perceptual organisation, the figures that look closed rather than open figures will be seen.

Perceptual constancy means that a person perceives a particular object to be of the same size, shape and colour in all situations. A person with a red car will always see his car as red even at night.

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