Perception Meaning, Definition, nature, barriers, importance

Table of Contents:-

  1. Nature of Perception
  2. Perception Meaning
  3. Perception Definition 
  4. Importance of Perception
  5. Characteristics of Perception
  6. Barriers to Perception

Nature of Perception

The nature of perception in organisational behaviour is as follows:

  1. Intellectual Process
  2. Psychological Process
  3. Subjective Process
  4. Lens Providing Worldview
  5. Socially Connected
  6. Culturally Influenced
  7. Self-Fulfilling

Nature of Perception

1) Intellectual Process: Perception involves the selection, organising, and analysis of data from the surroundings to gain some viewpoints. Hence, it is an intellectual process.

2) Psychological Process: Perception is based on the psychology of people.  Hence, the perception of the environment influences how a person acts, thinks, or feels.

3) Subjective Process: Two or more individuals may perceive the same event in different ways. This depends on their ability to choose what to understand, and how to classify the information collection and analysis of the event. Thus, perception is a subjective process.

4) Lens Providing Worldview: Perception acts as a lens because it equips a person with a viewpoint about his surroundings and reality.

5) Socially Connected: Every individual needs to understand the nature of another person from time to time because an individual’s mindset evolves. Hence, it is asserted that perception is socially interconnected.

6) Culturally Influenced: People’s views about the world can be influenced by their cultural values. For example, People from different cultures speak different languages.

7) Self-Fulfilling: When discussing person perception, the perceiver and the perceived are the persons, making the scenario more complex.

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For example, during hard times, people believe that the present situation is dire and will worsen in the coming days. Hence, they start behaving selfishly. They focus on protecting themselves and their families.

Perception Meaning

“Perception is the process by which information obtained from the outside environment is selected, received, organized, analyzed, and evaluated to make it meaningful for people. This meaningful information results in better decisions and activities.”

The “Pygmalion effect,” also known as the “Rosenthal effect,” teaches that people will act or behave in the way that others expect them to. This is similar to the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Influence has both positive and negative results—a person is expected by his or her superiors to succeed, but the opposite is also usually true. Most of the time, these expectations are not openly discussed; they are communicated passively through words or gestures. Its impact is most discussed in the context of education and the workplace, but it can also take hold in individuals.

Perception Definition in Organisational Behaviour

Perception Definition 

According to S.P. Robbins, “Perception may be defined as a means by which people organize and understand their sensory impressions to give meaning to their surroundings”.

According to Joseph Reitz, “Perception includes all those processes by which an individual receives information about his environment-seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling”,

As per Kolasa, “Perception is the selection and organization of material which originates from the external environment at one time or the other to provide the meaningful reality we experience”.

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Importance of Perception

Importance of perception in organisational behaviour.

Perception is important for the following reasons. The importance of perception in ob is listed below:

1) Helps in Understanding Human Behaviour

Every individual observes the world differently and deals with problems differently. An object might not be perceived in the same manner as it is. If a person purchases fruits from a particular vendor, it is not necessarily because the vendor is selling the best fruits in the entire market, but rather because the person perceives him to be doing so. It is due to this perception that a job, which one person finds satisfying and suitable, might not appear as good to another. Therefore, perception plays a significant role in understanding human behaviour.

2) Helps in Forecasting Behaviour

Different individuals behave differently when facing the same situation as they view the same situation differently. A person’s behaviour can be predicted by understanding his current situation and his current perception of the environment.

3) Facilitates Needs Determination

A person’s perception is influenced by their needs. Therefore, by understanding a person’s perception of a certain situation, their needs can also be understood. For example, mirrors in an amusement park show different images of the same object.

4) Assists in Handling Subordinates Effectively

If a manager wants to reduce mistakes and increase effectiveness in the work environment, he needs to understand the perception of his employees. This would help him predict employees’ behaviour as he would know their viewpoints.

Characteristics of Perception

Characteristics of perception are given as follows:

1. Perception is a process through which an individual selects data from the environment, after selecting the data he organises it and then obtains meaning from it.

2. Perceptions correlate, integrate, and comprehend diverse sensations and information from many organs of the body using which a person identifies things and objects.

3. Perception is the basic cognitive or psychological process, a manner in which a person perceives the environment that affects his behaviour. Thus, people’s emotions, actions, feelings or thoughts are triggered by the perception of their surroundings.

4. Perception is the phase of the operation that takes place after the information is received but one that is well-nigh indistinguishable from it.

Barriers to Perception

Various barriers involved in perception are as follows:

  • Selective Perception
  • Halo Effect
  • Contrast Effect
  • Projection
  • Stereotyping 
  • Attributional Bias
  • Impression 
  • Inference
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Pygmalion effect

Barriers to Perception

1. Selective Perception

People are prone to describe a situation based on their interests, background, experiences, and attitude. On the road, people tend to notice automobiles that resemble their own. Similarly, in the office, some employees receive appreciation for their good performance, while the same function performed by another employee may be overlooked. This is because people cannot observe every time and everything happening around them, so they perceive things selectively. 

For example, If there is a rumour that the factory is planning to lay off due to a decline in sales, and meanwhile, a senior manager plans a routine visit to the factory, it might be assumed that the manager is visiting the factory to eliminate employees. However, this assumption couldn’t be different from the truth.

2. Halo Effect 

Many times we tend to form judgments about individuals solely based on one particular characteristic. This is known as the halo effect. Under the influence of a halo, a perceiver cannot judge an individual properly because he does not consider all his traits. 

For example, if an employee always comes early to the office and is the last one to leave the office, he is considered to be a very industrious and resourceful employee.

On the other hand, an employee with a relaxed body language and casual attitude might not be relied upon and may not be taken seriously. These two judgments made by a manager are based on the halo effect and may not be accurate, as the manager has considered only a single obvious characteristic of the employees. Such judgments should be carefully examined as a single trait cannot define the nature and performance of an employee.

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3. Contrast Effect 

The contrast effect states that something dramatically different will overstate the contrast between itself and other elements.  

For example, in an interview when there are huge numbers of job applications, distortion in the evaluation of any candidate may occur based on the place of his application. If his application is placed after a relatively weak candidate, it may immediately grab the attention of the interviewer whereas it may lose its charm if it is placed after a very strong candidate.

Another example of the contrast effect is that after evaluating an excellent performer, the interviewer proceeds to rate other candidates’ performances. However, due to contrasting effects, the supervisor will observe significant differences in their performances, productivity, and aptitudes, leading to rating the initially excellent performer as an average performer. Therefore, the contrast effect negatively influences the supervisor’s decision making.

4. Projection 

Connecting one’s characteristics to other people. If a person is respectable and trustworthy, he takes it for granted that other people are also honest and trustworthy. 

People who engage in projection tend to perceive others based on their characteristics rather than the actual attributes of the person being observed. When observing others who are similar to them, these observers are quite accurate—not because they are conscious, but because they tend to judge people as being similar to themselves. Therefore, when people do find someone who is like them, they are naturally correct.

5. Stereotyping  

Stereotyping refers to creating a general image of the characteristics often incorrectly, of all members of a group. This type of perception hampers a manager’s ability to make correct decisions.

For example, Suresh is an introvert but an excellent salesman. However, his manager underrates his performance compared to other salespersons because he does not fit in with them. The manager here ignored his performance due to stereotyping and made an inaccurate judgment.

At certain levels, stereotyping can help in evaluating the environment. However, its negative consequences can result in enduring inaccuracies. It creates social biases and erroneous decisions that hamper innovation and infect the utilization of human resources, futility, and incompetence. 

For example, in the case of impaired employees, the employer’s stereotype is the major problem that workers face. Workers are often regarded as having lower performance levels, lacking job-related skills, and a tendency to take excessive leaves. However, the latest research findings state that these stereotypes are not accurate. When highly talented, well-educated people are considered unqualified due to stereotyping, then it becomes a problem. 

For example, a study based on female and male executives stated that females with less power had to face more obstacles and had to do more assignments for promotion as compared to men.

6. Attributional Bias

Attribution is the method that helps an individual determine the causes behind his behaviour. In an organization, people are not only concerned about an individual’s behaviour but also about the reason behind that behaviour. 

For example, if the productivity of a plant increases after the installation of new machines, then the credit would be given to the newly installed machines rather than to the manager and his employee-handling ability.

7. Impression 

The first impression of a person has a powerful impact on others. How an individual communicates, behaves or remains quiet has an influential effect. This initial impression determines what kind of relationship the two people will share in the future. Errors because of impression occur when for some reason the person formulates a negative image of the other person and then refuses to change it.

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For example, If a manager observes that an employee is not performing adequately, it may be due to personal circumstances. For example, the employee may have recently experienced the tragic loss of his wife in an accident. However, after a few days, the employee regained his composure and started giving a high-level performance.  Unfortunately, the manager’s perception remains unchanged, as he was negatively influenced by the first impression of that particular employee.

8. Inference 

Some individuals possess the impulse to pass judgment on others without possessing adequate knowledge. For example, an employee might sit at his workplace throughout the day, and do nothing. Still, he might be considered committed towards his work. 

Therefore, before conducting a performance appraisal, it is important to collect complete information about the employee. This includes evaluating their behaviour with colleagues and customers, while also considering their productivity, along with other relevant factors.

9. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Prejudiced perceptions may arise based on expectations. Many times people try to justify their perceptions of reality although they are inaccurate. Things that are acceptable in one culture might be considered inappropriate in another culture. 

Hence, in business, managers must gather information about cultural norms to avoid any awkward situations or hurt feelings of others. 

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For example, an American manager employed in Japan should be aware of the fact that while frequent smiling in America is considered polite, it would be considered foolish in Japan.

10. Pygmalion Effect

The Pygmalion effect, also referred to as the Rosenthal effect after the psychologist who first identified it, is a theory that suggests individuals tend to act or behave according to the expectations others hold for them. This concept is very similar to the self-fulfilling prophecy concept. The effect has both positive and negative outcomes for a person who is expected by his or her superiors to succeed, but the opposite is also usually true. Most of the time, these expectations are often left unspoken, lacking open discussion. Instead, they are communicated passively through word selection or nonverbal cues. To increase the likelihood of being positive Pygmalion, managers need to remember three things:

a) Individuals behave toward others consistent with their expectations of them. Managers who have high expectations of their employees are supportive and generally give employees more training and challenging jobs. By contrast, managers who have low expectations of their employees are not supportive and generally would not give employees training and challenging jobs. 

b) A person’s behaviour affects others, not only will those treated positively benefit from special opportunities but these opportunities will also bolster their self-esteem. 

c) People behave in ways following how they are treated. Individuals who have benefited from special treatment and possess unwavering self-assurance are highly inclined to excel in their work.


1. What is the Nature of Perception in Organisational Behaviour

The nature of perception in organisational behaviour refers to how people experience, perceive, and interpret the organisational culture. This interpretation shapes their behaviour and actions in the workplace.

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