Perceptional Process : Perception is a process consisting of several sub processes. We can take an input –throughput output approach to understand the dynamics of the perceptual process. This approach emphasizes that there is input which is processed and gives output. The stimuli in the environment-objects, events, or people-can be considered as the perceptual inputs. The actual transformation of these inputs through the perceptual mechanism of selection, organization, and interpretation can be treated as the throughputs, and the resultant opinions, feelings, attitudes etc. which ultimately influence our behavior, can be viewed as the perceptual outputs. This simplified process of perception in fig:
1. Figure is a simplified version of perceptual process. It does not present the whole factors which go in input-throughout output process of perception. Fig: 2 presents a comprehensive view of process of perception.
Figure 2. of perceptual process presents three basic sub processes or elements of perception. These are existence of stimuli, perceptual mechanism, and perceptual outputs. Perceptual outputs along with other determinants of human behavior affect and shape behavior. Let us we how perceptual process works in terms of its three basic elements.
Perceptual Inputs : strictly speaking, perceptual inputs in the form of stimuli are not part of actual perceptual process through these are necessary for the occurrence of perception. Stimuli may be in the form of objects, events, or people. Thus everything in the setting where events occur, or which contributes to the occurrence of events, can be termed as perceptual input. Further the characteristics of stimuli are important as these affect the extent to which the perceiver is attracted to these which affects the selection of stimuli for perception along with other variables affecting selection of stimuli like like perceiver’s characteristics and situational variables. When the perceiver interacts with a stimulus, sensation takes place which, we have seen earlier starts perceptual process.
Perceptual Mechanism: Perceptual mechanism involves three elements- selection of stimuli, organization of stimuli, and interpretation of stimuli.
Selection of stimuli: After receiving the stimuli from the environment, some are selected for further processing while others are screened out because it is possible for a person to selected all stimuli which he sees in the environment. There are two types of factors which affect selection of stimuli. These are external and related to stimuli and internal related to the perceiver. These external and internal factors are of several types. We shall discuss these factors and their impact on the selection of stimuli in the subsequent section of this chapter dealing with perceptual selectivity.
Organization of Stimuli: After the stimuli are received, these are organized in some form in order to make sense out of that. The various forms of organizing stimuli are figure-ground perceptual grouping, simplification, and closer.
Interpretation of Stimuli: The perceptual inputs that have been organized will have to be interpreted by the perceiver so that he can sense and extract some meaning of what is going on in the situation. People interpret the meaning of what they have selectively perceived and organized in terms of their own assumptions of people, things and situation. They also become judgmental as well and tend to interpret the thing as good/bad, beautiful/ugly and so on which are quite relative terms. In such a process, there are chances of misinterpretation. Interpretation of stimuli is affected by characteristics of stimuli, situations under which perception takes place, and characteristics of the perceiver. These factors also affect the total perceptual process.
Perceptual Outputs: Based on perceptual mechanism which ends with interpretation of stimuli, perceptual outputs emerge. These outputs may be in the form of covert actions development of attitudes, opinions, beliefs, impression about the stimuli under consideration. These outputs along with other factors affecting human behavior may result in overt behavior. For overt behavior to occur, perception is not the sole decider though it is important. For example, when a person sees an advertisement of a product, he may perceive that the product is good. This perception, however, may not be enough for the person to buy the product (overt behavior). The actual buying may depend on the availability of the product, perceiver’s need for product and his propensity and capacity to spend money for buying the product.