What is perception?

What Does Perception Mean

We explain what perception is and the components that psychology analyzes. Also, what are the stages of perception.

Perception is said to be subjective in nature.

What is perception?

Perception is the individual mechanism carried out by human beings that consists of receiving, interpreting and understanding the signals that come from the outside , encoding them from the sensitive activity. It is a series of data that is captured by the body as raw information, which will acquire a meaning after a cognitive process that is also part of perception itself.

It is precisely there that lies the difference between perception and sensation, with which the term is often confused: while perception includes the interpretation and analysis of stimuli , sensation is the immediate experience that points to an involuntary and systematic response .

In short, perception refers to a mental image formed from human experience , which includes its form of organization, its culture and its needs. There are the two components of perception that psychology analyzes :

  • The external environment, which is precisely the sensation that will be captured (in the form of sound , image), and ...
  • The internal environment, which is the way in which this stimulus will be interpreted (totally variable depending on the individual).

For this reason it is said that perception is subjective in nature , it is selective, because people decide (sometimes unconsciously) to perceive some things and others not, and it is temporary because it will not occur forever but for a short term.

Reviewing the history of the study of perception, we can mention physiology , which in the nineteenth century was concerned with delimiting the functioning of the human psyche in the reception of stimuli, but that was precisely what gave rise to psychophysics, a branch of psychology that is precisely responsible for that.

Today, the majority of perception studies are oriented to advertising , which is desperate to try to understand how individuals perceive external agents, seeking to find the best way to penetrate their needs and priorities.

See also: Intuition

Stages of perception

Individuals organize stimuli by specifically differentiating figure and ground.

Among all, it has been determined that perception works with a three-stage process:

  • Detection / Exposure. As stated, individuals only perceive a small portion of the stimuli that are within their reach. However, this selection that is made is not made consciously, but not randomly either. On the contrary, there are certain criteria that make a stimulus more easily perceived. Regarding the stimulus, the larger the size, the more varied the color , the greater movement , intensity, contrast and shock with what the individual expects to find, the more likely it is to be perceived. Regarding the individual himself, individual needs and values, personal and collective tastes, interests and what is not harmful to your body or spirit will be most easily cared for.
  • Attention / Organization. Assigning meaning to what you are perceiving has also been a matter of analysis. Probably the greatest contribution has been that of the Gestalt Psychological School, which defined the laws in which people group their perceptions (on the basis that the content of the perception is not equal to the sum of the characteristics of the stimulus) . The most important are the following:
    • Individuals organize stimuli by specifically differentiating figure and ground.
    • They group stimuli according to their proximity, linking to things that are in continuous.
    • In cases of non-complete sequences, it is sought to complete and close them, to contribute to the proportionality and balance in which we operate.
    • Similar stimuli tend to cluster together.
  • Interpretation. The final part of the process will be the one that will give content to the stimuli that were previously selected and organized. Here the individuality of each person comes into play much more, with their previous experience and their personal values. However, common behaviors have been established at the time of this process, such as the creation of stereotypes , the projection of one's own characteristics on others, or the few dispositions about which not much is known.
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