Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Perception is that organising process by which we
come to know objects in their appropriate identity, as
trees, men, buildings, machines and so on. Perception
does not operate like an adding machine: impressions
are not cumulative; rather, the mind interprets and
integrates what it receives. We do not see the same
thing in a picture, and report the same accident
differentially depending on our age, sex, intelligence,
experience etc. A distinction is often made between
sensation and perception on the ground that sensation
is the primary response of the sense organs, whereas
perception is the meaningful apprehension of the
stimulus object. This distinction is theoretical with
very little practical value. The processes of sensation
and perception are not separated in experience. We
never have pure sensations of colour or form or sound
distinct from associations with objects and other
experiences. If some one mentions the Taj Mahal at
Agra, our nod of recognition will probably include a
visual image of the building supplemented by memories
of things seen there. Odour of medicine reminds us
of a hospital ward and a sweet taste may call to mind
experiences of a dinner party. In response to the term
cricket many people report feeling as though they are
bowling or batting. Perception in these cases differs
somewhat from imagination. In fact, imagination is
really perception, in which there is a minimum sensory
control. Perception is a mediating process antecedent
to the final response. What we perceive depends in
part on the nature of the stimulus and to an even
greater degree on ourselves, so that perception
becomes the comprehension of a present situation in
the light of past experience.
The main characteristics of perception are unity and
organisation of feelings and emotions; attention and
selection; fixation and persistency; learning and past
experiences etc. Attention precedes perception and
determines its character. Attention is a process of
give and take with the environment. It is an active
behaviour. We are said to be attentive when our sense
organ activity is focused upon some defined stimulus:
sounds in the street, changes in the weather, a cricket
match, a lecture etc.
Perception is determined by internal personal
conditions and external social situations. Motives,
emotions, familiarity, attitudes, values and adjustment
are the main internal factors which influence
perception. The organization of stimulus, the similarity
in stimulus, closeness in stimulus, elements of figure
and context, influence perceptions. The presence of
others or a group also influences perception.
There are two main types of perception i.e. (i) Depth
perception, (ii) Movement perception.
Depth perception is related to the linear perspective,
clearness, interposition, shadows, gradients of texture
and movement of objects, closure or away from the
fixation point.
Movement perception is related to the type of motion
(i) Apparent motion and (ii) Real motion. The apparent
motion may be autokinetic or induced.
Social Perception
Social perception is a subject matter of social cognition.
Our social perception of others is initially based on
the information we obtain about them and inferences
(attributions) we make about the causes of their
behaviour. Our social perceptions are grounded in our
observation of others: their physical characteristics
and their behaviour in particular settings. Our
observation provides the information i.e. converted
into meaningful inferences by our cognitive framework.
At a minimum, this process involves placing the
information into cognitive categories related to other
categories. We can make simple inferences from
minimum data or combine rich sets of information
into overall impressions. We can also make inferences
about the causes of other people’s behaviour as well
as our own behaviour. Despite the smoothness in the
working of the process, it has no guarantee of accuracy
or the possibility of comparability with the observations
of others. Social perception processes determine how
we react to others and how we see ourselves. The
cognitive framework simplifies the process of forming
impressions of others. Many of the factors involved in
making attributions about others also play a role in
the process of forming self attribution. Social facilitation
occurs most readily where the presence of the other
is motivating.
Conformity pressures can create situations in which
the information obtained from personal modes conflicts
with the information obtained from social modes.
Conformity can also occur in response to the requests

of an authority figure and to rules governing behaviour.