Selective perception refers to the tendency of individuals to select and categorize stimuli from the environment while blocking out those stimuli that contradict with their beliefs or expectations so as to create meaningful experiences. In other words, people actively choose the information that they need to digest and that which they have to discard. However, selective perception can also happen unconsciously. For example, looking at the picture named Ambiguous Lady, one can either see an old lady or a young lady depending on their perception which happens unconsciously. When I first saw the picture, I focused on the feather that is coming out of the dark hair which is on the upper left-hand side of the image. Focusing on this area immediately brought up the image of a young woman who is looking away from the image. At first, I did not see two women on the image, but when I realized there was an alternative way to see the image, I looked at it focusing on different areas so as to get the image of the old woman. At first, it was difficult seeing the old woman but focusing on the chin of the young lady made me realize that it was the nose of the old woman. The nose is quite big and is facing down. If I could not see the old woman in the picture, I would have been disappointed but understand that not everyone perceives things in the same way.
One of the factors that make people perceive things differently is culture. Cultural differences may result in notorious misunderstandings. For instance, some cultures may perceive certain gestures as positive while others may perceive them as negative. I once encountered an unfamiliar cultural context where other people perceived things differently. While our culture considers thumbs-up as an approval signal, the other culture considered the gesture offensive. In this situation, I felt that I needed to avoid using such a gesture in order to prevent misunderstanding with other people.
The factors that influence how a person perceives the world are categorized into two: internal and external factors. The internal factors relate to the characteristics of the perceiver and include the perceivers personality, desires and needs, and experience. The personality of the perceiver affects what is to be perceived in a given situation and is closely related to the individuals desires and needs. Thus, the perception will vary depending on the variations of the perceivers desires and needs from time to time. Finally, experience is another factor that serves as the basis for perception. A person who has had a successful experience has an enhanced perceptive ability while failure erodes the perceptive ability. Additionally, successful experience assists the perceiver in having a better understanding of the stimuli. The external factors, on the other hand, relate to what is being perceived and the situation. These include the size, frequency, and intensity among others. When it comes to size, a larger object enhances an individuals perceptive ability since it attracts the attention of the perceiver. Repetition, on the other hand, affects an individuals perceptual ability in that a more repeated external stimulus creates more attention than a single one. Finally, intensity affects perceptual ability in that the more intense the stimulus, the more likely an individual will perceive it.
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