Perceptions and Decision Making

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Perception and Decision Making
Alan Piña
Axia College of University of Phoenix

Stephen Robbins (2005), defined perception as “a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment” (p.135). Perception is what leads one to behave a certain way in a given situation. One can define perception as the way that mind reacts to sensory information, and how we go about reacting to the stimuli and behaving according to the information known in a given situation. Perception aids us in making decisions on how to behave based what is known or seen; making an educated decision or guess based on what is seen or understood. However, perception comes with a vital flaw. Perception causes a behavioral judgment to be made on based on what reality is believed to be, not on what the reality actually is (Robbins, 2005). As perception is used in the workplace on a global scale, it is important to understand the importance of perception in organizational theory. “Why is perception important in the study of OB? Simply because people’s behavior is based on their perception of what reality is, not on reality itself. The world as it is perceived is the world that is behaviorally important” (Robbins, 2005, p.134).

A person’s perception of others can have a direct impact on an organization’s behavior. There are internal and external factors that control people’s behavior. Internal factors are behaviors that can be controlled by an individual. External factors are uncontrollable or not planned for as the situation is the source of the cause for the given behavior (Robbins, 2005). Perception plays an integral role in deciding the root of a behavior, “if consensus is high, you would be expected to give an external attribution to the employee’s tardiness, whereas if other employees who took the same route made it to work on time, your conclusion as to causation would be internal” (Robbins, 2005, p.136). If an employee were to confuse a behavior for being internal when it was really external, it could cause that employee to misjudge the situation. This could potentially cause a sense of animosity towards someone who appeared to get away with a type of behavior that is perceived to be intolerable (Jette, 2007). There is a tendency to succumb to the fundamental attribution error when one is only given a limited source of information. Managers and employees alike will probably take credit for things when they are going well, and blame it external factors when they are not. In general, people are quicker to think that behaviors are caused by internal behaviors than external behaviors (Robbins, 2005). It would be safe to say that perception carries a significant role in organizational behavior. Given that no manager or employee is omnipotent, caution should be taken in behaving abruptly based on perceptions. Both managers and employees should really investigate to determine whether a behavior is external or internal before they behave on what they have merely perceived (Vithessonthi, 2007).

There are positive and negative effects to using perceptive shortcuts when judging others. There are certainly several downfalls to one using perceptions to judge others. Under any given circumstance, our perceptions may deceive us. “Because we can’t observe everything going on about us, we engage in selective perception” (Robbins, 2005, p.138). We are limited to the information that we know, or what we think we know as correct in evaluating how to behave.

“People selectively interpret what they see on the basis of their interests, background, experience, and attitudes” (Robbins, 2005, p.139). This gives us a quick inference as to what something one someone is really like. Using selective perception does carry the benefit of being able to quickly judge a situation. As one becomes wiser, it is likely that they will be able to hone in on this skill.

A perfect example of a negative...
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