Factors influencing Perceptions

Perception: It is the process where by people select, organize and interpret sensory stimulations into meaningful information.

Perception lies at the base of every individual behavior. Perception is the process whereby people select, organize, and interpret sensory stimulations into meaningful information.

All of us do not have the same view of the world. We see the things differently. There is noticeable difference in the way people think and react to the world. For example, consider an equilateral triangle and insert or form equilateral triangles inside the large one exactly fitting. How many triangles are there?

A person who rushes through the figure would put the number at nine. Another visualizes as many as ten. An intelligent or close observer notices as many as thirteen triangles.

Research has shown that though individuals may look at the same thing, they may perceive it differently. Let us look at an example from the business world. There is an assistant who regularly takes several days to make an important decision. One manager may interpret that the assistant is slow, disorganized, and afraid of making decisions. Another manager may interpret the same assistant as thoughtful, thorough and deliberate. The first manager evaluates his assistant thoroughly negative, while the second manager appraises the same behavior only positively.

It is surprising that most people do not see the reality. They actually interpret what they see as reality. Most of our actions are primarily based on our perceptions.

Factors Influencing Perception:

The factors that influence perception are of two kinds – internal and external

Among the internal factors the needs and desires of individuals, individual personality, and the experience of people are included.

Needs and Desires>

The needs and desires of people play a vital role in perception. People at different levels of needs and desire perceive the same thing differently. Power seekers are more likely to notice power related stimuli. Socially oriented individuals pay attention to interpersonal stimuli. That is to say expectancy, motives or interest also affect people perception.


Personality is another internal factor that influences the perception of an individual. It need not be mentioned here that optimistic beings perceive the things in favorable terms, whereas pessimistic individual view it in negative terms. Research on the effects of individual personally on perception reveals many facts.

1) Secured individuals tend to perceive others as warm and kind hearted.
2) Persons who have faith in their individuality perceive things favorably.
3) Elf accepted individuals perceive themselves as liked, wanted and accepted by others.


Experience and knowledge have a constant bearing on perception. Successful experiences enhance and boost the perceptive abilities and lead to accuracy in perception of a person.

External factors:

Also known as exogenous factors, they also influence the perception of a person. Perception is affected by the characteristics of perceived object, an event or a person. These include size, intensity, frequency, status etc.


The bigger the size of the perceived stimulus, the higher is the probability that it will be noticed. Dominance is established by size and it overrides other things and thereby enhances perceptual selection. For example, a full page advertisement may induce more attention than a small advertisement in some corner of the newspaper.


While reading a passage, a person comes across a few lines printed in bold letters. He automatically pays more attention to these lines. Underlined sentences and so the ones in italics are generally more attentively read.

The principle that the higher the intensity of external stimulus, the more likely it will be perceived is not always valid. If intensity is so important, why a whisper by a student in a classroom is effective in getting attention by a teacher? Here, the answer lies in the fact that a whisper often contrasts with the rest of the noisy environment, and so gets noticed. Therefore, the intensity factor has to be considered in the light of the situation i.e. frame of reference.


Repeated external stimulus is more attention gaining than a single one, so states the frequency principle. Repetition is one of the most frequently used techniques in advertising and is the most common way of attracting the people’s attention. Frequency results in making people aware of the stimulus.


The status of the perceived person has also got influence on the perception. High status people can exert influence on perception of an employee than low status people. When introduced to two people of different ranks, we tend to remember the person holding the higher rank than the other one.


Stimuli that contrast with the surrounding environment are more likely to be selected for getting attention. A contrasting effect can be caused by color, or any unusual factor.