Perceptual Selectivity – Under the process of perception it has been pointed out that it is a selective process. In everybody’s environment there are various stimuli. These stimuli are in the form of objects, events and people. An individual cannot get attracted towards all these stimuli. He is attracted towards only those stimuli which interest him. The stimuli towards which he gets attracted are selected and the others get ignored.
For example, when we read a newspaper we get attracted towards only some of the news and ignore the remaining news.
Now the question arises as to what are the factors which influence the perceptual selectivity. There are various factors influencing it. For the convenience of study they can be divided into the following two categories:
(A) External Factors
These factors are related to the external environment or stimuli. These factors are in reality the characteristics of the stimuli. It is only these characteristics of the stimuli that attract a person and he selects them, otherwise he overlooks them. The following are the chief external factors that influence perceptual selectivity:
(1) Size: Size means the big or small size of the stimuli. Generally, it has been observed that stimuli which have a large size attract people quickly. There is a greater possibility of the perception of such stimuli being selected. For example, when we read a book, it has two types of written words, e.g., headings which are printed in big letters while their explanation is written in small letters. The moment we open a book our attention immediately goes towards the headings and not the explanation that follows them. In the context of business we find big sized advertisement attracting people quicker than the small-sized advertisement.
(2) Intensity: Intensity means that some stimuli are brighter, louder, stronger in odour and more colourful than the others. Somebody gets attracted to a loud sound than a lower sound. Similarly brighter stimuli attract people more. For example, bright packing in business, loud advertisement, loud speaking by a supervisor- all these things are done so that the people get attracted to them.
(3) Repetition: Repetition factor indicates that the repetition of a stimuli has a particular attraction. It is on the basis of this principle that the businessmen display the advertisement of their products repeatedly. When a particular stimulus repeatedly appears before us, it is natural that we start taking interest in it. A person desirous of getting a job meets the personnel manager time and again.In this case we find this factor of repetition at work.
(4) Motion: This factor tells us that people get attracted more to the moving stimuli instead of The fixed stimuli. That is why there is a greater possibility of perception about the moving stimuli and their selection. We usually find flashing neon sign boards displayed in the market, at the cross-roads, etc. The advertising material remains in motion in these advertisements. People moving about during the night get attracted towards them. This is an attractive medium of advertisement.
(5) Contrast: Contrast means when a stimulus in its own group appears to be different. Every stimulus is looked at in the context of its background. Here background means the group of which the stimulus happens to be a part. If a member of a group appears to be different from the other members, the perceiver will be attracted towards it.
For example, in the following two diagrams, the squares given in the centre are of the same size but when we look at the central square in Fig. A it looks a little small and when the same square in the Fig. B is looked at, it appears big. Therefore, it is clear that a stimulus (object, event or person) appears different in a different background. The use of background is made in order to make a stimulus attractive for the people.
(6) Novelty and Familiarity: The factor of novelty and familiarity plays an important role in the selection of stimuli. Novelty means the presence of new stimuli in the existing environment. For example, if a foreign lecturer is appointed to teach Management Concept and Organisational Behaviour in a class, he will attract students’ attention towards him. This is an example of creating novelty in an old environment in order to attract the attention of the perceivers.
Similarly, if a well known or familiar author goes to different colleges/universities to teach the same subject he will also attract students’attention. This is an example of attracting the attention of the perceivers by sending a known or familiar person in a new environment.
(B) Internal Factors of Perceptual Selectivity
External factors influencing the perceptual selectivity are connected with the stimuli while internal factors are connected with the perceivers. In fact, these factors are the characteristics of the perceivers. These characteristics of the perceivers attract them towards some particular stimulus. If a particular person gets attracted to some particular stimuli, he selects them, otherwise he ignores them. The following are the internal factors influencing the perceptual selectivity:
(1) Self-Concept: Self-concept of a person is the chief internal factor of perceptual selectivity Self-concept means as to what extent we know ourselves and how confident we are for ourselves. The of a person helps in formulating his concept about the stimuli. For example, if a person self-concept doubts his ability, he will fear the stimuli (his outer world). On the contrary, if he is confident about his self, he will accept the stimuli happily. In other words, the more we understand ourselves, the more easily we understand others. Therefore, correct self-concept influences accurate perception.
(2) Belief: A person’s belief in external environment/stimuli helps him in the selection of the stimuli. A person thinks about a stimulus as per his belief in it and not what it actually is. In other words, a person accepts facts after duly censoring them so that his present belief in them remains intact.
(3) Needs: The selection of the stimuli available in the environment is influenced by our needs. If a person wishes to attain some particular achievement he will get attracted towards only those stimuli which fulfill his wish. Similarly, if a person wishes an increase in his affiliation he will get attracted towards only those stimuli which help him in satisfying his wish for greater affiliation.
(4) Expectation: We have an expectation of a particular behaviour from everybody. We select them on the basis of our expectation (or the behaviour expected out of them). For example, if we expect the use of a rough/foul language by a particular section of people, our relationship with them will depend on that very expectation. Our expectation can be fully wrong or absolutely right. Expectation can also undergo a change.
(5) Response Disposition: Response disposition means that a person gets attracted towards a known rather than an unknown object/person. A person gets attracted quickly towards things which he already knows, while he ignores other things about which he knows nothing. For example, there are two lectures going on before a religious man.
In one of the lectures religion is being taught while the second lecture is about the economic condition of the country, it is undoubted that the person will feel interested only in the religions discourse because he is familiar with the vocabulary of the discourse and he will easily understand everything. This happens only because of individual’s response disposition.
(6) Interest: Selection of stimuli available in the environment is influenced by the interest of the perceiver. For example, a plastic surgeon and not a lecturer, will get attracted towards an individual having an unusual nose. Similarly a lecturer will get attracted to the wrong pronunciation of words during the course of a lecture and not a plastic surgeon. This happens only because of a special interest of the individual in a particular thing. A plastic surgeon rectifies the unusual looks or deformities of limbs. Therefore, he gets attracted to them. On the other hand, a lecturer’s job is teaching and, therefore, he gets attracted towards the person pronouncing words wrongly.
(7) Learning: Some learned experience influences the perception of an individual. On the basis of learned experience whatever a person expects to see or hear, he sees or hears the same. Look carefully and understand the given diagram. We will read the sentence written in the triangle as Turn off the switch’ in the first instance while there is an extra The’ in the sentence. This happens only because we usually make use of the sentence Turn off the Switch. It means that we know it from our previous experience.
In other words, the attraction of a person towards some stimuli depends on his learned experience. If we talk in the context of organisation, the learned experience of an employee influences his perception. For example, the decision making by an employee is affected by his specialisation.