Perception and Consumption

Topics: Classical conditioning, Sociology, Symbolic interactionism Pages: 5 (1474 words) Published: December 18, 2012
Perception and consumption
Perception reflects the process an individual employs in using information towards creating a meaningful worldview (Gibson, 2002). A consumer achieves this by selecting, organizing and interpreting phenomena. Perception has assumed great importance in consumption since individuals selectively perceive the products they consume (Zukin and Maguire, 2004). Briefly, perception affects choices by highlighting how people view advantages and risks associated with products. Selective perception involves a process where information is filtered. Filtering entails exposure to stimuli, comprehension and retention. This implies that the brain of a consumer tries to arrange and interpret available information. Selective exposure reflects acts of consumers paying attention to messages which are consistent with individual beliefs and attitudes. On the other hand, consumers are likely to ignore messages that are contrary or inconsistent with their beliefs and attitudes. Regarding comprehension, consumers may distort information in order to attain consistency with personal ideals. In the same way, selective retention occurs since consumers are unable to recall all the messages that they read, hear or see. This allows for an examination into subliminal perception. Subliminal perception underscores the idea that often consumers hear or see messages unaware. However, scientific research proves that such messages do not have considerable influence on behavior (Hurley, 2002). Perception is thus an approximation of reality (Smith & Mackie, 2000). Consumer brains always try to make sense based on the stimuli being experienced. As an illustration, circular shapes of ice-cream may appear bigger than rectangular ones although in reality they are of the same size. As pointed earlier, certain factors play an important role in influencing perception. Exposure captures the extent to which a person encounters a stimulus. By way of illustration, one gets a higher exposure to several advertising messages when driving on high ways or visiting shopping malls. It is remarkable though that this type of exposure is random. Instead, a person shopping for an electronic good may look out for electronic goods advertisements (Gorn, 1997). Although significant, exposure alone does not push an individual into making a purchase. In practice, a single encounter with an ad may not entice an individual to make a purchase. On the other hand, repetitive ads may influence shoppers significantly. However, conscious attention has even more significant effect. This implies that interest is more valuable. Interpretation is also an important aspect. Making sense based on the stimuli exposed to enables a consumer to categorize products. As an illustration, seeing a red-can may imply a Coke. If such a connection were not made then ads would not lead to the desired results. Symbolic-interactionism

Symbolic interactionism helps in understanding how individuals define experiences and accord meaning to their behaviors, identities, realities and social interactions (Goldstein, 2009). Symbolic interactionism primarily focuses on the self. As such, symbolic interactionism examines symbolic meanings that are linked to individual experiences in association to self-identity as constructed by the person in question based on interactions with other people. This position is held in reference to the idea that 'self' is central in regards to human relations. It thus emerges that self emerges based on the interaction process. Symbolic interactionism also focuses on situations (Burke, 2003). Situation is viewed as the organization of perception. In this organization, individuals collect objects, meanings, etc and act on them in a structured manner. Based on the theory of symbolic interactionism, people organize the way they conduct things in accordance with their expectations and those of others depending on experience. It is thus not surprising that meanings associated...
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