Scarlet is on her way to a social event with her girl friends. She is single and definitely not looking for a date. She also has very high standards. While she is out, a well-dressed man pulls her aside and starts up a conversation, ultimately trying to get her number. She rejects him and heads back to her friends who are busily gossiping about the situation. When she reaches her friends they exclaim, “Are you blind or just crazy? Go back and give that guy your number!” In turn she tells them, “That guy? He is a five at most in my book, besides I don’t want to end up tied to some guy all night!” Scarlet and her friends just experienced differences in perception. Perception is different in every person and there are several factors that contribute to this fact. The following paper will define perception, explain the perception process, and then identify the various influences on perception relating to interpersonal communication.
What Is the Perception Process?
Perception is the process of identifying stimuli, organizing it, interpreting it, and potentially negotiating our perception—ultimately leading us to determine how we will react to our environment. The world is full of stimulating objects: voices, a smile, a salesman, etc. But what makes us focus on a specific stimulus? Adler and Proctor (2011, p.84) explain that stimuli that are intense, repetitious, or contrasting or changing tend to get noticed more. A louder voice in a conversation is likely to stand out to other voices. A smile might catch your attention if everyone else’s demeanor is serious. Someone on a corner repeating that he has flowers for sale will probably get at least a glance from you. Another important thing that makes stimuli stand out is our motives. If you are nervous about a marriage proposal, then billboards and television commercials advertising romance and jewelers selling engagement rings will catch your attention more frequently than normal.
Once we are aware of something we must organize our perceptions into logical categories. In the case of interpersonal communication perceptions, we “organize our impressions of other communicators using a number of schemes” (Adler & Proctor, 2011, p.85). Appearance, social roles, interaction style, psychological traits, and membership are all examples of types of schemes we may use. After the perception is in a category we can begin to interpret it; the third step in the perception process. According to Adler and Proctor (2011), a wide range of factors influences our interpretations including the following: the degree of involvement with the person, our previous personal experience, assumptions about human behavior, current attitudes, expectations, knowledge of the person, our self-concept, and relational satisfaction with the person. Tina L. Jones, a relationship and dating advice writer, educates women on how to tell if a man is interested in you in her article “Does He Like Me? –Know If He’s...