Perception – Meaning, Definitions, Features , Sensation and Perception


Perception is what we see in the environment around us, in other words how an individual interpret the information i.e., seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling and smelling about his environment. Thus, perception is a subjective phenomenon. In terms of S-O-B-C model, perception is the cognitive process which involves the O (organism) selecting, organizing, and interpreting the S (stimulus). Thus, perception is the process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting or attaching meaning to the events happening in the environment.
People select the stimuli they perceive and organize and interpret them in the light of their previous experience, motives and interest at the time of perception. The process of developing a viewpoint is perception. A person behaves according to what he perceives the reality to be rather than what reality is. Thus, we look at the same thing but perceive it differently because perception is a cognitive factor of human behaviour. It is basically an individual process that is why we perceive the same situation differently. Thus, what we see is influenced by the perceiver, the object and the environment.

Definitions of Perception 

According to Collins and Drever
Perception is the immediate apprehension of an object or situation affecting any or all of the sense organs by way of sensation.
According to Rao and Narayan
Perception is a process whereby people select, organize and interpret sensory stimulations into meaningful information about their work environment.
According to Stephen P. Robbins
Perception can be defined as a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environments.
According to B. Von Haller Gilmer
Perception is the process of becoming aware of situations of adding meaningful associations to sensations.
According to Fred Luthans
Perception is an important mediating cognitive process through which persons make interpretations of the stimulus or situation they are forced with.
According to U. Pareck et al
Perception can be defined as the process of receiving, selecting, organizing, interpreting, checking and reacting to sensory stimuli or data.
According to H.J. Reitz
Perception includes all those processes by which an individual receives information about his environment – seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. The study of these perceptional processes shows that their functioning is affected by three classes of variables – the objects or events being perceived, the environment in which perception occurs and the individual doing the perceiving.
According to Kolasa
Perception is the selection and organization of material which stems from the outside environment at some time or the other to provide meaning to what we experience.

Features/Characteristics of Perception
1. It is a cause or base for behaviour. It affects or determines one’s behaviour. People have their perceptions on job assignment, pay, working conditions, relations with others, and so forth.
2. Perception is a psychological process the way one perceives the environment affects his behaviour.
3. It is a process by which one selects, organizes, and interprets stimuli to get meaningful picture of the world.
4. Perception differs from sensation.
5. It is one’s own way of looking at the world. It yields unique picture of the world.
6. Perceived world is not real world but has feeling of reality.
7. Perception is selective. Individual develops perception only on selected, (not all) stimuli he is confronted with.
8. Learning is the basic input in perception process. (It is filtering and evaluating factor). Motivation, attitudes, and personality factors also affect one’s perception process.
9. Perception depends on one’s needs. Selection, organisation, and interpretation of stimuli depend on one’s needs.
10. People’s actions, thoughts, emotions, etc., are triggered by the perception of their surroundings.
11. Perception being an intellectual process, becomes subjective.
12. Different people perceive the same situation and environment differently.

Sensation and Perception
Sometimes, confusion arises between sensation and perception as both are the cognitive processes and both are beads of the same string. Behavioural scientists generally acknowledge that all knowledge of the world depends on the senses and their stimulation, but the facts of raw sensory data are insufficient to produce or to explain the coherent picture of the world as experienced by the normal person. In this context, it is important to understand the difference between sensation and perception. Perception process starts with sensation. Sensation simply means to sensitize, or to have experience of any of the stimuli by any of the five senses. Physical senses, like seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, or tasting, involve sensation. Perception is concerned with selecting, organizing and interpreting these sensitized stimuli to a draw meaningful picture or information about them. The distinction between sensation and perception may be made as follows:



It is basic process in perception. Perception is developed on the basis of sensitized information.
Sensation is a simple process. Perception is comparatively a complex mental process because it is affected by a number of variables.
It is general as no selection is made. All stimuli are given equal priority. it is selective as only a few stimuli are selected.
It is compulsory. Normally, one cannot stop sensation. It is optional. An individual may or may not select all what he sensitized.
It can change immediately when stimuli change. Perception is difficult change. It is long-lasting.
Sensation is important for private life. Perception is important for personal as well as organizational life.
It has short life. It is temporary. It has no impact on behavior. It is long-lasting in nature. It has enduring impact on behavior.
Sensation is not affected by other cognitive forces, like motivation, personality etc. Perception is result of all these force. It involves selection, organization and interpretation.
It involves only sensitizing stimuli. No further process is made. It involves selection, filtering and interpreting.
It deals with elementary behavior and is determined by physical functioning. Perception is more complex and broader than sensation.