Perceptual process

19th September 2022 0 By indiafreenotes

Perception refers to our sensory experience of the world. It is through this experience that we gain information about the environment around us.

Perception relies on the cognitive functions we use to process information, such as utilizing memory to recognize the face of a friend or detect a familiar scent. Through the perception process, we are able to both identify and respond to environmental stimuli.

The perceptual process follows a series of steps which starts with an exposure to stimuli and ends with an interpretation of the stimuli. The perceptual process is usually unconscious which happens without our awareness and also for several times in a day. The process of perception passes through the following stages:

Selection: This is the first stage of perception which involves decision making about what needs to be attended to, which can be unconscious sometimes and on other occasions can be intentional. The world around us might present infinite stimuli, but our brain has the capacity to attend to the stimuli selectively, which depends upon the environmental factors or individual factors. When we attend to a stimulus selectively, it is considered as attended stimulus. Selection is influenced by various factors such as drives & motives, impulses and incentives for acting in a certain way. Emotional drive in a number of ways can influence how we selectively attend to stimuli. This has been explained with the help of the following examples:

  • Selective Retention: It means, we have a tendency to recall or retain that information which is compatible with our interests, beliefs and values as opposed to those which conflict with our interests, values or belief system, as a result of which we selectively organize the information. For example, a consumer may rationalize the product purchase which they enjoy by considering only the health benefits or the positive aspects of that product.
  • Selective Perception: It is the tendency to perceive only such information or things which we want to perceive and completely ignore the opposing factors which are against our beliefs, preferences or values. For example, a teacher may find all the good qualities in her favourite student and may completely ignore the negative one because of the perceptual bias.
  • Selective Exposure: We select and organize only that information to which we want to be exposed to based on our past beliefs, perception or experiences.

Organization: Once the stimulus is selectively chosen, the second stage comes into play. In this stage, a series of reactions set in the brain. It starts with the process of activation of sensory receptors, which is then transmitted to the brain as neural energy and involves mental construction of the stimulus which is called as percept. In this stage, we tend to mentally organize the stimulus into meaningful patterns for being able to interpret the same properly. Perceptual schema helps in organizing information or grouping of the stimuli on the basis of the appearances, interactions, social roles and a lot of other factors. These schemas then determine how we perceive things about the world around us. We even do have a tendency to form stereotypes for making sense of the world around us, which is the tendency to simplify or group related stimuli together to be able to easily understand and interpret the information in the simplistic possible way. Stereotyping may have dangerous implications when it is based on unrealistic attribution of certain characteristics to the entire group. It may result in discriminatory behaviour or a bias or oppressive behaviour.

Interpretation: Once the stimulus is attended to selectively and the information is organized by the brain, the interpretation of the information takes place for providing some meaning to the stimulus to which we are exposed. We tend to categorize the stimulus for being able to acquire a proper understanding and take improved decisions accordingly. Interpretation is subjective in nature because different people might perceive the same stimuli differently in the influence of their past experiences, attitude, values or beliefs.

Perception Process

To better understand how we become aware of and respond to stimuli in the world around us, it can be helpful to look at the perception process. This varies somewhat for every sense.

  • Environmental stimulus: The world is full of stimuli that can attract attention. Environmental stimulus is everything in the environment that has the potential to be perceived.
  • Attended stimulus: The attended stimulus is the specific object in the environment on which our attention is focused.
  • Image on the retina: This part of the perception process involves light passing through the cornea and pupil, onto the lens of the eye. The cornea helps focus the light as it enters and the iris controls the size of the pupils to determine how much light to let in. The cornea and lens act together to project an inverted image onto the retina.
  • Transduction: The image on the retina is then transformed into electrical signals through a process known as transduction. This allows the visual messages to be transmitted to the brain to be interpreted.

Neural processing: After transduction, the electrical signals undergo neural processing. The path followed by a particular signal depends on what type of signal it is (i.e. an auditory signal or a visual signal).

Perception: In this step of the perception process, you perceive the stimulus object in the environment. It is at this point that you become consciously aware of the stimulus.

Recognition: Perception doesn’t just involve becoming consciously aware of the stimuli. It is also necessary for the brain to categorize and interpret what you are sensing. The ability to interpret and give meaning to the object is the next step, known as recognition.

Action: The action phase of the perception process involves some type of motor activity that occurs in response to the perceived stimulus. This might involve a major action, like running toward a person in distress. It can also involve doing something as subtle as blinking your eyes in response to a puff of dust blowing through the air.