Perceptual Errors | Perception| Fundamental of Organizational Behaviour
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Perceptual Errors

Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information. It is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions to give meaning to the external factors or the environment. People generally use a number of shortcuts when they judge others. They are also called perceptual errors or barriers to perceptual accuracy.

The types of perceptual errors are as follows:


Selective perception

Since we can not observe everything going on about us, we engage in selective perception. People selectively interpret what they see on the basis of their interests, background experiences, and attitudes. It is the tendency not to notice and more quickly forget stimuli that cause emotional discomfort and contradict our prior beliefs. For example, a teacher may have a favorite student because they are biased by in-group favoritism. The teacher ignores the student’s poor attainment.


Halo effect

It refers to the tendency of judging the person entirely on the basis of a single trait which may be favorable or unfavorable. Here, a single trait dominates other characteristics of the individual. It helps to judge others quickly. Among other errors of perception, halo error has the most profound/deep impact and implication on an individual’s perception and behavior. They are not always inaccurate, although, they probably are more often wrong than right.

Stereotyping (Generalizing/Grouping)

In order to simplify matters, we often tend to classify people and events into already known general categories or groups. We put people into a convenient category on the basis of some characteristics (usually ethnic occupational, sexual, etc.) is known as stereotyping. It helps to simplify the complexity. It avoids individual differences and gives a wrong judgment.
For e.g: Indians are quick-tempered, Fat men are Jolly/happy, Americans are ambitious, Chinese are mysterious and Japanese are industrious, etc. The above examples are not always true. They are true in general not in particular.

Contrast effect

It is another perceptual error that is very common in our workplace. We don’t evaluate a person in isolation. Contrast effect or error occurs when we evaluate a person’s characteristics that are affected by comparisons with other people recently encountered who rank higher or lower on the same This type of error is very commonly found when managers go through employment interviews, performance appraisal, etc.


This is also a very common type of perceptual error. Projection refers to the tendency of the people to see their own traits in other people. It means that, when people make judgments about others, they project their own characteristics into others. As the saying goes, ‘to an honest man, everybody is honest’ and vice versa.


There is a popular saying that ‘the first impression is the last impression’. We frequently form the impression of others at first sight. Even before knowing any of their personality traits, they start having impressions and perceive thereby. This sometimes leads to perceptual distortion. This error may create biasness while performing a performance appraisal.
Examples are:

  • First bench students disciplined and intelligent
  • Last bench students undisciplined and weak

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How does the term gestalt relate to the psychological study of perception?

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Passive Perception


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