Perception And Perceptual Distortion In Human Behaviour

Factors Influencing Perceptual Distortion

Perception plays an important role in understanding the human behaviour because every person perceives the world and approaches the life problem differently. Actually, what really a person sees or feel is not necessarily the same as it really is. It is because what a person hears is not really said, but perceive as being said. Perception distortion in one word is an incorrect interpretation or analysis of a perceptual experience. A perceptual distortion generally occurs when an individual response to stimuli, which vary from how, it is commonly perceived. When we buy something, it is not because it is the best rather we consider it as the best. Thus, it is perception, because of one-person find himself in the job satisfactory position but another one may not be satisfied with the same job. It is all about the matter of different perception of the individual (Wilson, 2018). Generally, perception refers to a process by which a person organizes and interprets their sensual impression in order to give meaning to that particular situation or environment. In other words, perception is what we experience after seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, and tasting any object, which is around us. It can also refer to the processes that permit us to identify information from the patterns of energy that impinge on our sense organs. In an organisation, Perceptual distortion can lead to lower employee’s performance, low morale and biased thoughts and an overall reduction in the organisation’s effectiveness.

Save Time On Research and Writing
Hire a Pro to Write You a 100% Plagiarism-Free Paper.
Get My Paper

However, there are several factors that distort our perception such as our mental or emotional habits, out stereotype thinking, halo effects etc. playing a crucial role in our perception. The perceptual distortion can also cause the psychological disorder, medical or drugs, physical damage to the brain or sensory organs of a person. These factors generally distort our perceptions of what is happening in the outer world. There are not too many peoples, who selected to be aware enough to understand what is going on in reality. To avoid the perceptual distortion on has to keep in mind about the way the perceptual process works. A person can easily avoid the perceptual distortion by communicating with others and talk to another person that what he/she perceived about the same object or situation, which may lead to an agreement or otherwise communication process can help to short out the perceptual differences (Yabe, Dave, and Goodale, 2017).

The Perceptual Process consists of four key steps. The first step of the perceptual process is Stimuli or Cue. Every human being has five sensory organs through which the smell, touch, feel, hear, see and taste. The information or stimuli about the object are received by these organs. The written information is received through the eyes. Oral information is received through hearing. Once this information received by the individual communicates, interpret this information and having the different interpretation of the information because different communicates have different interpretation skills. The second step is a selection of stimuli which means there are many types of information or stimuli received from an object or situation but communicates received only that information which makes some sense to him (Liu, et. al, 2017). The selection is necessary because it is the most relevant information at that time. The third step is filling the gaps. Actually, the perceiver fills the gaps with supplementary information if he/she found incomplete information about the object or situation. The perceiver also ensures and makes necessary efforts to maintain continuity in the information. The last step in the Perceptual process is proximity, which means nearness or closeness of information, may be perceived as a whole. It should be considered here that proximity is different from similarity.

The Perceptual Process

Distortion in perception results in creating a communication gap. Any person process and interpret the incoming raw data with the help of their sensory organs and perceive it based on their experience and knowledge, in terms of their current needs and interests. The person uses the whole experience and knowledge to interpret a sensation. Perception is generally triggered by complex patterns, not by individual sensation (Chinomona, and Dhurup, 2016). Some people perceive ice = cold. Instead of some people, understand that ice is nothing but frozen water. It happens because of cognitive bias because individuals stand on their past belief, experience, knowledge and thoughts regardless of the information they get about the object. John Schermerhorn Jr., in his book Organizational Behaviour, explains the six factors that influence the perceptual process and created distortion and bias during perception. They not only damage our understanding of ideas, concepts, and ideologies rather it prevents us to see and to understand people from what they really are. The different causes that distort our perception are as follows:

  • Stereotypes:Stereotype is referred to as the thinking of an individual, which is influenced by their group. In other words, it refers simply to the way in which we group together people who seem to us to share similar characteristics. Stereotypes are the same as what was the picture about the particular thing in our mind. As an example, if we meet engineers, doctors, or accountants, we attribute certain personality traits to them, because they are a doctor, or engineers or whatever (Aidla, 2017). If the whole group has the perception that Iris people are drunker and Women are very bad in driving, even there are is a reality in both the statements, an individual who belongs to the same group and think accordingly.
  • The halo effect:The halo effect is a well-documented social-psychology portent that causes people to be unfairly judged in their findings by conveying their feelings to a single characteristic of an individual to another based on unrelated attributes (Chatterjee, Pereira, and Bates, 2018). In other words, if a person perceives a positive thing about another person he/she perceives everything positive in him, but when a person dislike one aspect of something or another person, he/she will have a negative predisposition towards everything about the other person. Thus, the halo effect works in both positive and negative direction (Mohd-Zainal, Yusof, and Goodyer, 2017). A negative halo effect sometimes called the “Pitchfork effect” or “devil effect” but that seems to be taking the metaphor too far.
  • Selective perception: Selective perception is a process by which people see and perceives what they want to perceive and ignore other attributes of the object or person or in any situation (Hystad, Mearns, and Eid, 2014).In other words, a selective perception is a form of perceptual bias, as we interpret stimuli or information in a harmonious way in correspondence to our existing values and beliefs. The various psychologists believe this process happens inevitably and automatically in human beings (Dolcos, et. al, 2017).
  • The contrast effect:The contrast effect is a type of perceptual distortion where a person compares the attributes and characteristics of one person to another person in a brief period of time. Because of this, meanings and interpretations are assigned based on contrast and comparison with other person object or individual (Lindebaum, Geddes, and Gabriel, 2017). Even this may seem like a valid way of comparison, but when we compare scientifically with other object or person, there are so many differences will be detected (Grunig, and Hung-Baesecke, 2015).
  • Projection:This distortion happens when a person tags their own characteristics, nature, personal point of views, and behaviour with another person. People think that the others share the same perception about an idea or a process and preventing that the others opinion improvements and changes.  
  • The self-fulfilling prophecy:It destroys the perception of a person when it affects the perception of a person by creating expectations. It creates an environment that assists it to be fulfilled those expectations effectively. This way is possible to get both positive and negative results in our interactions with people.

When our perceptions are distorted by our own bias, we found ourselves to understand the behaviour of others because of our own perceptual distortion. A person cannot work properly or function in any organisation, even in their own life if he/she facing any perceptual distortion. Thus, it is essential to overcome the perceptual distortion in one’s personal life as well as in the organisation.

Save Time On Research and Writing
Hire a Pro to Write You a 100% Plagiarism-Free Paper.
Get My Paper

It is essential for any person in their both personal and professional life to understanding how others perceive you as an individual and how you perceive others. This will help to interact with others and you can better deal with them. It will be so crucial if you are working as a team leader and guiding and leading a team (Hutchinson, and Jackson, 2015). It is very essential for the increasing the self-confidence and to know that what people think and their perception about you.

  • Authentic Communication: Poor communication is one of the major factors behind the perceptual distortion. Therefore, authentic and reliable communication is necessary for improving the perception. The communication has tom effective and proper and needs to be understood by others in the way you want to deliver your message to him and wish it to understand. If a manager of an organisation unable to communicate properly, it leaves a bad impact in the mind of their subordinate and this creates a bad perception in the mind of people about the leader (Montano, and Kasprzyk, 2015). Hence, proper communication is necessary to remove the perceptual distortion.
  • Empathy: Being emphatic also helps in removing the perceptual distortion from the mind of a person as it helps in to understand the circumstances by keeping oneself in the shoes of others.It is essential for a person to empathetic about others behaviours and tries to understand what they want to convey, or what are their problems. One should not judge others on the past behaviour and characteristics (Raab, et. al, 2015). Effective listening skills of a person help in understanding the other person that helps to create a good perception in the minds of others.  
  • Positive Attitude: Keeping a positive attitude always helps in improving the perception. As an example, a person is not performing well in the organisation up to the expected levels, and if a manager keeping a positive attitude towards him and motivate him about his target, he/she can take effective control of the situation, thus preventing one’s perception to get distorted. A positive and good thinking about others always helps a person to create a good perception in the minds of other. One should not judge others on the basis of stereotyping or halo effect, rather a person should be recognized and identified by their present behaviours and characteristics.
  • Cultural Influences: Cultural influence plays a major role in the perceptual distortion and it is very difficult for an individual to change one’s cultural perception. However, it may be possible for a person to be flexible and accommodating enough to be able to shape up one’s perception.
  • Avoid making rash judgements: One should not try to make a rash judgement about other person or about their behaviour based on prior experiences. The people should aware of the person and try to understand him/her that what are present characteristics and attributes of the person (Snoeijers, and Poels, 2018). Generally, people judge others based on what others say about that particular person what he did in past in their life. It is not easy to understand a person on their past behaviour or work.

Perceptual distortion is a major problem in the life of a human being even in both professional and personal life. In an organisation, it was so essential to remove the perceptual distortion because of it unable to understand and interpret the work of the employees that leads to the decrease in organisational performance and work efficiency. When our perceptions are distorted by our own bias, we found ourselves to understand the behaviour of others because of our own perceptual distortion. A person cannot work properly or function in any organisation, even in their own life if he/she facing any perceptual distortion. Our behaviour, attitudes, negative and rude response to the action of others, will have potential to destroy and damages our relationships with family, friends, and our colleagues that are important for our personal happiness and success in life.

Negative Effects of Perceptual Distortion on Organizations


Aidla, A. (2017) Perceptions of negative inequity at work and the behaviour of individuals. GSTF Journal on Business Review (GBR), 2(3).

Chatterjee, A., Pereira, A. and Bates, R. (2018) Impact of individual perception of organizational culture on the learning transfer environment. International Journal of Training and Development, 22(1), pp. 15-33.

Chinomona, E. and Dhurup, M. (2016) The effects of organisational commitment and employee perceptions of equity on organisational citizenship behaviour in Zimbabwean SMEs. South African Journal of Labour Relations, 40(2), pp. 77-98.

Dolcos, F., Katsumi, Y., Denkova, E. and Dolcos, S. (2017) Factors Influencing Opposing Effects of Emotion on Cognition: A Review of Evidence from Research on Perception and Memory. In The Physics of the Mind and Brain Disorders (pp. 297-341). Springer, Cham.

779455Gkorezis, P. and Petridou, E. (2017) Corporate social responsibility and pro-environmental behaviour: Organisational identification as a mediator. European Journal of International Management, 11(1), pp. 1-18.

Grunig, J.E. and Hung-Baesecke, C.J.F. (2015) The effect of relationships on reputation and reputation on relationships: A cognitive, behavioural study. In Public Relations As Relationship Management (pp. 95-145). UK: Routledge.

Hutchinson, M. and Jackson, D. (2015) The construction and legitimation of workplace bullying in the public sector: insight into power dynamics and organisational failures in health and social care. Nursing Inquiry, 22(1), pp. 13-26.

Hystad, S.W., Mearns, K.J. and Eid, J. (2014) Moral disengagement as a mechanism between perceptions of organisational injustice and deviant work behaviours. Safety Science, 68, pp.138-145.

Lindebaum, D., Geddes, D. and Gabriel, Y. (2017) Moral emotions and ethics in organisations: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Business Ethics, 141(4), pp. 645-656.

Liu, M., Tang, C., Gong, L. and Xue, Q. (2017) July. Research and Analysis on the Influence Factors of Spatial Perception Ability. In International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics, pp. 131-142.

Mohd-Zainal, A., Yusof, S. M., and Goodyer, J  (2017) Validity, reliability and variations of perception of dimensions of learning organisation at different organisational levels in Malaysian manufacturing companies. Jurnal Mekanikal, 40(1).

Montano, D.E. and Kasprzyk, D. (2015) Theory of reasoned action, theory of planned behaviour, and the integrated behavioural model. Health behaviour: Theory, research and practice, pp. 95-124.

Raab, M., Lobinger, B., Hoffmann, S., Pizzera, A. and Laborde, S. eds. (2015) Performance psychology: Perception, action, cognition, and emotion. USA: Academic Press.

Snoeijers, E.M. and Poels, K., (2018) Factors that influence organisational crisis perception from an internal stakeholder’s point of view. Public Relations Review, 44(1), pp. 65-74.

Wilson, F.M. (2018) Organizational behaviour and work: a critical introduction. UK: Oxford university press.

Yabe, Y., Dave, H. and Goodale, M.A. (2017) Temporal distortion in the perception of actions and events. Cognition, 158, pp. 1-9.