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.
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.