Perception is an unconscious process where you take in sensory information from your environment and use that information in order to construct your own version of reality.
Your mind is constantly trying to make sense of the world around you. You are continuously forming opinions and making judgments about every situation, event, and interaction. You look at situations and interpret them according to your past experiences, culture, faith, and values. Those judgments and opinions you form are influenced by all these factors.
These factors shape your core beliefs about yourself, others, and the world in general. The meaning you give events, the way we make sense of your world, is based upon your core beliefs. It is as if you are looking at the world through your own tinted and biased lenses.
Forming a Perception
The perception process has three stages:
- Your recognition of sensory information
- Your mental organization of that sensory information, and
- Your interpretation of the information
The process begins with your sensory experience of the world around you. You take the sensory stimuli from the environment and send that information to your brain to begin the cognitive processes required to interpret the information.
The cognitive phase has you attain awareness and understanding of the world around you by first organizing the information then interpreting that information you take in.
People can view the same exact object or event, yet interpret it in totally different ways. For example, people can view a lake and have different perspectives. One may see a place to swim, another a place to fish, another a place to canoe, another a place to picnic, and yet another may see a place to build a house.
Constructing your Perception
People tend to think of perception as a passive process, where you stand back and view the world you and let the information sink into your mind. You may think that you are objectively recording what is actually happening around you. However, your perception is an active process rather than a passive one. You construct your it, rather than recording reality. You construct your it based on how you choose to see the world.
Influences on Perception
Your construction is influenced by several factors including:
- past experiences
- preconceived notions
- present circumstances