In today’s society, in order for us to function properly in the modern world, we have to take in information from our environment and use it to modify our behavior and actions. We succeed in doing this with the help of the five senses of hearing sight, smell, touch and taste, as well as, with additional two called pain and proprioception. Each one of them brings information about what is around us. However, we are physically incapable of absorbing all of the potential information that is surrounding us, so we tend to whether consciously or unconsciously acknowledge certain stimuli and ignore others. The process through which all of this occurs is called perception. This is a mental process that involves the selection, organization, structuring, and interpretation of the given information in order to give meaning to it and provoke certain behavior or action. In the business environment or other organizations, our perceptions serve to make perceive people and make judgments of them, based their appearance, actions or behavior.
There are three main categories, whose factors influence perception. The perceiver’s past experiences, needs, personality, values and attitudes are crucial in the course of the perceptual process. All these factories are called an individual’s perceptual set. The setting and its physical social and organizational factors also tend to influence the perceptual process quite a lot. The characteristics of the object or person that is perceived, such as contrast, size, intensity and others are also very important in the perceptual process.
The process itself consists of four main stages. People are constantly bombarded with more stimuli than they can comprehend. Thus, attention is required to be focused, but only on the ones we choose. This process is called selective screening. With its help we ignore the information that we consider insignificant and gather only what we think is important for us. In the times when this choice is made consciously, it is called controlled processing. However, screening takes place without the perceiver’s awareness, usually in situations in which our mind is occupied by something else, so the actions that we make rely on our instincts. After we have already selected and gathered the desired information, the organization takes place. We do this with the help of schemas. These are cognitive frameworks developed through experience (Roy French, 2008). For example, individuals use person schemes to sort out other people into different categories. The terms that represent these categories are “prototype” and “stereotype”. Once we have we have selected certain information and organized it with a schema, we have to interpret it. Last, but not least the processed and already interpreted information must be retrieved from the individual’s memory and to be able to recall what is being perceived when it is needed.
During the perceptual process there are same mistakes that we unconsciously make and which later affect our judgment of a person or an object. Such inaccuracies are commonly known as distortions. One typical distortion is the so called projection. It is especially likely to occur in the interpretation stage. In this situation, a individual is with the impression that his own personal needs and attributes are equally valid and important for the others. In that sense one assigns his personal needs and attributes to their people, who do not necessarily share his or her view. Managers often do that mistake by assuming that what they feel is right for them is right for their colleagues or subordinates. For example, a company has been assigned an important and profitable project, and its manager feels the need and satisfaction to work as much as possible on it, because of the money and recognition that he or she will receive after the task is being successfully finished. Therefore this manager projects his needs and desires onto his or her subordinates, assuming that they,...
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