Perceptual errors are present all around us. What we think, see, or believe about an issue or person is not always correct. This is due to what Robins, Judge and Campbell term perceptual errors.You are required to critically assessa number of key theories and issues associated with perceptual error particularly in relation to person perceptionand discuss its implication for managers and organisations.
Perception is a process which helps the people in organizing and interpreting their sensory impressions so that they can give meaning to their environment (Langton, 2013). The things that are perceived can be substantially different from the objective reality. This concept is important while studying the organizational behavior because people start behaving in the way they perceive things and see the reality. The perceptual process is as follows:
The purpose of this assignment is to critically assess a number of key theories and issues associated with perceptual error, particularly in relation to personal perception, and discuss its implication for managers and organizations. Critical assessment of the theories and issues associated with perceptual error in relation to person perception
Factors affecting perception
There is one thing, but the way of looking at it is different. Different people perceive it differently. There are many factors behind it that can shape perception or can distort the perception. The factors may be present in the perceiver, in the object which is being perceived, or the situation under which people make perceptions (Alfes, 2013). These factors are given in the image below.
Personal characteristics influence the perception of the personality of people, their motives, the experiences that they had in the past, attitudes, etc. Then, the object or the target also has some characteristics that influence the way it is perceived. For example, when the people are loud, attractive or unattractive, they are noticed more in a group. The context is important too.The time when the perception is made, the location, light, heat, etc. are the things that influence the perception (Shoss, 2013).
The application of perception that is related to the person is related to the theory of attribution. This theory tries to explain the way in which people are judged in a different manner, depending on the meaning that people attribute to a given behavior (Graham, 2014). Basically, this theory talks about the fact that when an individual’s behavior is observed, it is determined that whether the cause of the behavior is external or internal. Internally caused behaviors are those that occurs due to the personal characteristics of people and they are under the personal control of the people (Harvey, 2014). Externally caused behaviors are those that occur when a situation arises that force the individual to act in a certain way (Harvey, 2014).
The determination of the cause of behavior depends on three factors: distinctiveness, consensus, and consistency. When a person displays different behavior in different situations, it is called distinctiveness (Kelley, 1967). Consensus happens when all the people responds in the same way in the similar situations. Consistency occurs when the response of the people is same over time (Kelley, 1967).
This theory helps in finding that the biases and the error distort the attributions. When the behavior of others is judged, the influence of external factors is underestimated, and the influence of internal factors is overestimated. This means the people believe that the behavior of a person is occurring due to the internal factors. This is called the fundamental attribution error in which people attribute their success to their internal factors like their efforts, ability, etc. and they put the blame of the failure on the external factors like co-workers (Li, 2012). Therefore, when people achieve something, they give credit to themselves and their efforts, but when they fail to achieve something, they blame other for that. The issue in this is that when other is made responsible for failure due to the incorrect perception of the cause of failure, they are wrongly punished, the reaction which is given is inappropriate.
This theory is the most widely used theory while studying the perceptions and it is effective in predicting the behaviors when the cause of the behavior is identified properly. Also, the predictions can be made easily in this theory. Butthere is a risk in this related to the inaccurate inferences that can cause erroneous assessments. A particular behavior may be due to some expectation of the person, and it may never become real ever. Then, the inferences drawn from this are mostly biased.
Gibson’s theory of direct perception
This is a bottom-up theory of perception. This theory of perception says that perception is determined by the optical flows like the optical arrays. The reality which is perceived is independent of the individual and his position. The position of the person has only little influence on the way we perceive things (Gibson, 2014). When the position is changed, only some of the information regarding the object gets changed, but not the reality.
This theory can be appreciated due to the approach that Gibson has adopted. He trusts the senses and the nature of the sensory data and uses it for evaluating the data. But, the fact that visual field provides information regarding usage of objects from the previousexperiences are difficult to collect and remember. Also, the learning from the past experiences is difficult to put in meaning unless somebody teaches us the meaning.
Gregory’s theory of perception
This is a top-down theory of perception. Here, the perception is viewed as a hypothesis. If the hypothesis is formulated incorrectly, then there will be errors in the perception (Gregory, 2015). The perception is explained by the prior knowledge and the past experiences. Most of the information getslost when it travels from the eyes to the brain. The information is lost through the visual system, and the brain also lets's go the unnecessary information.
This theory helps in clarifying the reasons for the errors and the inadequacies. The theory takes into account the personal history, and the theory understands that when the sensory data operates, it may not always perceive things. Perception happens when feelings are integrated into a broader context of the beliefs and the opinions of the people. But, this theory does not explain the relative correctness and universality of most of the perceptions in a satisfactory manner.
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The perceptual errors
The people use shortcuts in judging others which create errors n their judgment and the behavior of others in wrongly perceived. This is the perceptual error. The errors cause major issues for the people, managers, and the companies because unnecessary troubles get created for the people, and it results in significant distortions. Some of the errors are as follows:
Stereotyping: The people believe that when a person belongs to a specific group, he will have similar behavior and traits as that of the group (Boachie-Mensah, 2012). The person is perceived as per the overall category to which he belongs. For example, it may be perceived that every Muslim is a terrorist. This notion is wrong because the realtrait of the person isdistinct from others and he should not be judged on the basis of the group, religion, community, etc. to which he belongs. This is a major perception error and a major issue while perceiving others.
Halo effect: In this, a single trait is used to judge the person’s behavior like the trait of appearance, punctuality, intelligence, etc.(Cohen,2013). For example, if a person comes to the office on time but he does not work the entire day, then he may be perceived as a sincere employee on the basis of his trait as being punctual. This is another error of perception and causes issues during processes of business like the performance appraisal process.
Projection: It is the tendency of seeing one’s own traits in others (Cohen, 2013). The personal feelings, attitudes, motives are projected on the other people. This is strong when the perceivers have the undesirable traits, and they judge others accordingly. They fail to recognize the bad traits in themselves, and then they project it on others.
Perceptual defense: The way in which things are perceived is defended by the people. They do not try to adjust with the change, and they resist it. This has many negative consequences like problems may not get solved.
Contrast effects: In this error, the characteristics of the people are evaluated by comparing them with the others who may rank higher or lower on those characteristics (Boachie-Mensah, 2012).This practice distorts perceptions. In this, the person is not evaluated in isolation, but the judgment happens on the basis of the people who have been encountered recently.
Implications for managers and organizations
The theories and issues related to perceptual errors have implications for the managers and the organizations which are as follows:
Interviews: The possibilities of perceptual errors are maximum during the interviews. The managers draw early impressions of the candidates either due to halo effect or stereotype, and they judge them inaccurately (Alfes, 2013). They make variousjudgments about the candidates on the basis of first glance. If the impressions are negative, the entire interview goes negative as the managers are not willing to look at other things. Therefore, the managers and other people in the organization must take care of these errors during interviews.The candidate must be judged on his overall performance during the interview and not on just a few things.
Performance evaluation or performance appraisal: The evaluation of the performance of people is very much dependent on the process of perception. The selective perception, contrast errors, halo effects affect the way the managers evaluate the performance of the people. For example, if any employee is not coming on time in office on a regular basis but he is giving output more than the others then, he may be appraised negatively just on one factor which is non-punctuality of the employee. Thus, the managers must evaluate the performance in an objective manner and based on all the factors important for performance.
Performance expectations: The people try to validate their perceptions of reality even if they are at fault. Their behavior is determined by the expectations of others. When the managers expect big things from the people, they perform better so that they can meet his expectations but if the managers expect minimal performance, then they perform accordingly. The expectations of the people start becoming a reality. Thus, this is an important implication for the managers because the managers can determine how to motivate the employees and how to make them perform as per the expectations.
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the errors of perception are common in the organizations. There are various theories relate to perception like attribution, Gibson's theory, and Gregory’s theory. These have been critically assessed and evaluated. Then the perceptual errors have also been discussed in the above section. These errors are very serious as they have serious implications for the managers and the companies like they cause problems during performance appraisal of employees, they cause major errors in judging people during the interviews, and they determine the expectations of the performance of the employees. Thus, the managers must take care while doing such activities.
Alfes, K., Shantz, A.D., Truss, C. and Soane, E.C., 2013. The link between perceived human resource management practices, engagement and employee behaviour: a moderated mediation model. The international journal of human resource management, 24(2), pp.330-351.
Boachie-Mensah, F.O. and Seidu, P.A., 2012. Employees' perception of performance appraisal system: A case study. International journal of business and management, 7(2), p.73.
Cohen, M.X. and van Gaal, S., 2013. Dynamic interactions between large-scale brain networks predict behavioral adaptation after perceptual errors.Cerebral Cortex, 23(5), pp.1061-1072.
Gibson, J.J., 2014. The ecological approach to visual perception: classic edition. Psychology Press.
Graham, S. and Folkes, V.S., 2014. Attribution theory: Applications to achievement, mental health, and interpersonal conflict. Psychology Press.
Gregory, R.L., 2015. Eye and brain: The psychology of seeing. Princeton university press.
Harvey, P., Madison, K., Martinko, M., Crook, T.R. and Crook, T.A., 2014. Attribution theory in the organizational sciences: The road traveled and the path ahead. The Academy of Management Perspectives, 28(2), pp.128-146.
Kelley, H.H., 1967. Attribution theory in social psychology. In Nebraska symposium on motivation. University of Nebraska Press.
Langton, N., Robbins, S.P. and Judge, T.A., 2013. Fundamentals of organizational behaviour. Pearson Education Canada.
Li, Y.J., Johnson, K.A., Cohen, A.B., Williams, M.J., Knowles, E.D. and Chen, Z., 2012. Fundamental (ist) attribution error: Protestants are dispositionally focused. Journal of personality and social psychology, 102(2), p.281.
Shoss, M.K., Eisenberger, R., Restubog, S.L.D. and Zagenczyk, T.J., 2013. Blaming the organization for abusive supervision: The roles of perceived organizational support and supervisor's organizational embodiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(1), p.158.