Perceptual set in organizational settings

Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impression in order to give meaning to their environment. Perceptual set is an expectation of perception based on past experience with the same or similar stimuli. It refers to specific factors within the individual which have a bearing on their attention. It presents a broad view about the environment and people which helps to guide an individual's perception and behavior at work. The sources of perceptual sets are past experiences and contents; past experience are the factors within a perceiver whereas contents are factors outside the perceiver, which shape the perception and perpetual relation of a person.


The perceptual set comprise of:

  1. Past experiences: The experience from the past relates to the factor that is held within the perceiver.
  2. Content: The content refers to the factors which are outside of an individual and shapes their perception to the environment.

Perceptual selectivity is influenced by different factors. Among them some external factors may be as follows:

1. Principle of Intensity: High intensity increases the chances of selection. If the message is bright, if sentences are underlined, it gets more attention than in normal case. The greater the intensity of stimulus, the more likely it will be noticed. An intense stimulus has more power to push itself to our selection, filters then does the weak stimulus. Thus, the principle states that the more intensive an external stimuli in terms of loud noise, bright lights or heavy smell the more likely it will be perceived by an individual.

For example: a person driving in a busy road receives attention of the red, bright, flashing light of ambulance.

2. Principle of Size: The principle of size says that the larger the object, the more is the probability that is perceived. Size attracts the attention of the individual. A full page spread advertisement attracts more attention than a few lines in a classified section. The reason is not difficult to see. The size establishes dominance and enhances perceptual selection.

In other words, the principle states that the individual perceptual selection is largely influenced by the size of the stimuli. It states the bigger or larger the size that we see the more attention is paid towards it as the large size dominates the other average size.

For example: we tend to perceive fast at the full size advertisement on a daily newspaper than a few lines in classified display.

3. Principle of Frequency/Repetition: The repetition principle states that a repeated external stimulus is more attention-getting than a single one. It is for this reason that advertisers go for repetitious advertising to gain the customers' attention to their product. It implies that the repeated stimulus is more attention drawing than a stimulus stated single.

For example: a teacher/lecturer repeats the key points and formula in class for the students. 

4. Principle of Contrast: As per contrast principle, the external stimuli, which stands out against the background will receive more attention. For example, plant safety signs with black lettering or a yellow background or white lettering on a red background are more attention attracting. Similarly, the principle implies that the perception is influenced by the contrast. The contrast stimuli will receive more attention than the stimuli which is stated out against the background.

5. Principle of Status: Status held by an individual also influences his/her perception about things or events. Researches suggest that people with high status often exert more influence on the perception of an individual as compared to those holding low status.

6. Principle of Novelty and Familiarity: The principle implies a novel or familiar situation serves as an attention drawer. The novel factor in the environment attracts our attention. New objects on a familiar setting or familiar objects in a new setting draw the attention of perceiver.

For example: a person attending a marriage ceremony tends to notice more for his familiar relatives and friends. 

7. Principle of Movement: The movement principle says that people pay more attention to a moving object than the stationery ones. People will be attracted more by a running train than one standing on the platform. 

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