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What Is Personal Perception?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2016
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Personal perception, or person perception, is the way a person forms judgements and makes conclusions concerning the characteristics and motives of others. The mental processes used are a big issue in social psychology as they determine how people think, feel and behave. Perceptions and judgements of other people are significantly influenced by the assumptions made about about those people's internal state. Society is based on personal perception in that it involves the way people perceive one another and the reaction to those perceptions.

Perception refers to the way a person tries to understand the world they live in. Information is gathered through the five senses and perception gives meaning to the sensory input. Personal perception differs from perception of inanimate objects in that inferences are made regarding intent and judgment is based on how that intent is perceived. Different people infer and judge differently depending on their personality and past experiences.

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When judgements are made regarding other people's motives, errors and biases are often made or inferred. Personal perception is often based too much on internal or personal factors and less on the influence of external factors. Many times, it is inferred that other people do something because of their personalities but when considering our own actions, we think we do things because of the situation we find ourselves in. This is called the Actor-Observer Effect. There is also a halo effect in that studies have shown that people are perceived as being much better or much worse than they actually were.

There is a cognitive bias that is in play when processing information about others. First impressions are based on very little information and are influenced by factors such as social norms, stereotypes and physical cues such as dress. Implicit personality theories are collections of beliefs and assumptions that everyone has linking certain traits to other characteristics and behaviors. Once an obvious trait is perceived, other traits are assumed. This is one of the problems with perception as things are not always what they appear.

The people being perceived react to the judgment made about them by either agreeing or disagreeing with that judgment. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy in that if someone feels the other is intelligent, that person reacts by acting intelligent. On the other hand, when one person treats another with contempt, the target of that perception may react by feeling contempt for themselves.

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literally45
Post 3

This is probably why people who dress differently or act differently are often outcast by society. We have an idea of what people should be like and what they should do. And anything that doesn't fit that gets a negative label.

But I also feel that we can change this. We can be more open-minded, less biased and judgmental. We can try and get to know people before perceiving them in a certain way. Never judge a book by its cover.

serenesurface
Post 2

@bear78-- I'm not an expert but I think that personal perception is a conscious process. But it occurs very quickly, perception in general does. So you may not be aware of how you came to a conclusion about someone, but there is certainly a reason for it. If you ponder about this and try to observe your thoughts when you first meet someone, you will figure it out.

Our worldview and past experiences weigh heavily on our perception of others. The human mind doesn't like the unknown and it loves to label and categorize things. So it takes in a piece of information and tries to get to the whole by using that information. For example, someone with a

strong bias against those with tattoos may see a tattoo on someone and immediately assume that they are a bad person or they like breaking the rules, etc.

We are actually constantly judging people based on very little information. Our perception is very flawed.

bear78
Post 1

Is personal perception a conscious thing? Or are parts of the process subconscious?

I feel that the latter is true because sometimes I meet someone and don't like them for no particular reason and sometimes I meet someone and like them right away, again for no particular reason. I don't understand how this happens.

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