Factors that Influence Perception

The first part of our perception involves the things that grab our attention or that keep our attention. There are intensities to events in life that get our attention right away, for example. When something effects our senses of sight, sound, color or taste in a big way, we pay attention or become attracted to getting more, getting involved, getting less or getting away.

There are repetitive events and statements that get past our biases and filters to eventually grab our attention in subtle ways. Then, there are events and statements that we disagree with, either strongly or subtly when they are repeated again and again.

Finally, with attention, we have biases that work for ourselves. When we disagree, we are right and the other is wrong. We are primarily responsible for our accomplishments while other people or other things are primarily responsible for contributing to our mistakes.

After our attention is gained, however, there are factors that directly affect our perception in interpersonal behavior and relationships. If we are satisfied and happy with a person, we are going to take in their messages differently than if we are dissatisfied or unhappy with a person. If racial and gender bias, for example is involved, we are inclined to take people’s messages differently than if we are racially and gender tolerant.

We can be more favorable to the messages of a person when we desire more or prolonged involvement with a person. With the racial and gender bias example, we can have our desire set in place by our preconceptions and biases, which in turn affects how favorably or unfavorably we react to their messages, which include verbal and non verbal communication.

Past experiences and expectations will influence our perceptions. With the race and gender example, if there have been successful working, school or other relationships in institutions that have a culture of working together, then there are greater odds that an individual’s qualities, behavior and messages are more inclined to be initially evaluated on their merits, rather than on preconceptions. If there has been lifelong aversion and segregation, then there are fewer odds that an individual’s qualities, behavior and message will be evaluated on its merits.

Our cultures and self perceptions influence the way in which we percieve things. If we have low self images that come from cultural or family factors, then we might filter or bias our perceptions in a far more negative or restrictive, “I can’t have this” or “I should not be interested in this” way than if we have good self images.

Our knowledge, education and skills for taking in information and sensual experiences will affect our perceptions. Everything from knowing that we are allergic to certain things to having knowledge that a new physical entity can be examined by a set of scientific principles can determine how we take in information and handle it. But when there is a disparity between knowledge and education, there may be vast differences in perception. The allergic indivudal might not want to hear about a dish that had the offending ingredient in it. The scientist might not be able to reduce the special qualities of a rock for a lay person’s understanding.

Perceptions are also affected by our advanced abilities of empathy, our need to rationalize or show concern and our other emotional and even physiological responses to events and messages.

One interesting new phenomenon, given that many humans are conditioned by lifelong exposure to advertising, labeling and branding, is the new marketing schemes that focus on mass creations of perceptions. These schemes, using social networking and other internet functions go to the point of planting or creating perceptions that are false or that are skewed to make products and corporations look better than they are. This goes beyond false advertising and tends toward actually creating belief sets, life plans and desires and belief systems that favor the advertising or even political entity.

In summary, there are many factors that influence our perceptions and now there are very savvy commercial, political and other social entities that are making use of those factors to actually create perceptions on a very large scale