Perceptual set (A Complete Guide)

Perceptual set

Perception can be defined as how the sensor data is categorized, interpreted and consciously experienced. Two types of processing are involved in perception. One is bottom to top and the other one is top to bottom.  Bottom to top processing means that perceptions are made on the basis of sensory inputs. On either side, the interpretation of those senses is highly influenced by our knowledge, our thoughts and our past experiences. This is known as top to bottom processing.

Perceptual set (A Complete Guide)

How these perceptions are built is another important factor. The process of building perceptions starts with the sensory experiences about the world. The recognition of environmental stimuli is supplied by our five senses at this stage. These senses are, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling. All these senses are impacted by stimuli. All of these senses are part of our sensory system which is on the receiving end, receiving all the sensory information and transmitting them to our brain. This information provided by our senses to the brain then builds a perception in our mind.

Perceptual Set

Perceptual set refers to being able to recognize what are the factors present in a sensory record and tend to avoid other aspects. The human body is a wonderful machine. The way it does to perform its functions is that it repeats its actions and motions and minimize the efforts required to perform these actions. For example, each step of the baby, who is in the process of learning how to walk, is planned and then performed. When he has learnt it after a certain instant, he will be running around without thinking and planning about it. He will be just running and running. 

Human brain is programmed to perform a similar task. There are various sources of information and this information continues to enter our brain.Our brain tends to operate mostly on expectations and not relying on what is present to boost up the time taken for processing this information and reducing the efforts required to process this information.

Research at Cambridge University has shown that it does not matter in what order the letters are in a word, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.

Perceptual set (A Complete Guide)

A type of perceptual set is that when a person is afraid of a snake, he will be suspicious and will automatically think that anything in the grass is a snake. Although, if the person is standing in his garden at his house. A perception set can be changed through a number of ways. If a person feels he is hungry, his perception set will be looking for something to eat over everything else.

The theory of perceptual set emphasis on the concept of perception as a process which involves inference, interpretation and selection.

The idea of perceptual set is of immense importance for the active process of perception. Perceptual set was defined by Allport in 1955 as, perceptual prejudice, tendency or preparedness for perceiving the specific characteristics related to an impetus. 

A perceptual set refers to being able to recognize what are the factors present in a sensory record and tend to avoid other aspects. In 1955, Vernon proposed that there are two ways in which a perceptual set works. These are as follow;

  • A selector is a perceiver who has particular expectations and is focused about the specific features of the sensory data.
  • The person who is on the perceiving end is well aware of categorization. He has an understanding about the names of selected data and what are the inferences to be drawn from this data. This is called an interpreter.

How Perceptual Set Works?

According to an author, Sandra Hockenbury, our perceptions are susceptible to get influenced by the expectations, interests and motives of an individual. 

Perceptual sets, usually, can help us. They mostly enable us to draw fair and accurate conclusions about the different things which exist in this world. If a person finds himself to be not right about anything, he will mostly grow fresh perceptual sets which will be fairly accurate. Nevertheless, our perceptual sets can also, sometimes, make us miss the target. If a person shows greater interest in military aircrafts and he sees the formation of strange clouds in the sky from a distance he will likely perceive it as a formation or aircraft.

Perceptual set (A Complete Guide)

Top down processing is actually a good example to relate perceptual sets with. In this process the perception of a person starts from general and advances towards the specific. Prior knowledge and expectations greatly influence such perceptions. If a person wants something to look like in a particular way he will likely perceive this in accordance to his expectations. 

Perceptual sets are often guided by concepts, mental frameworks and existing schemas. For instance, the scheme about faces is stronger in people which makes it easy recognizing the human faces which are familiar to him. This also implies that if a person looks at a confusing picture he will be looking for a face in it as compared to any other object.

It has also come to the knowledge of researchers that perceptual sets will usually make people unable to miss out additionally available items when he has located the first one in a scenario where multiple items appear in a single visual scene. For instance, security agents at an airport can spot the bottle inside the bed and are likely to miss out that there is a firearm also in the bag.

Forces of Influence

Following are different forces of influence. 

Motivations

Motivations can be defined as the process inside a person that activates the behavior and these behaviors are directed to achieve a specific milestone. For instance, most cricket fans will come to the stadium to watch the game with their perceptual sets created by their motivation of watching their favorite side win the match. 

The motivations of an individual are important factors which play a determinant role in making our perceptual sets and the way he interprets the work around him. If a personis sporting his preferred team in a game, he will be curious to see the supporters of the rival side as over aggressive, incompetent and weak. In an experiment the participants were not given food for a few hours. Later on when they saw some confusing images, the people who were not given the food were more likely to explain those pictures as related to food objects. As they were feeling hungry, they were motivated to interpret those images in a specific style.

Expectations

Expectations of an individual also play a crucial role in defining the perceptual set. If a person is expected to show a behavior in a particular way in a particular situation, these expectations are likely to influence how we perceive that individual and his role. An experiment, how expectations impacts our perceptual sets, involved showing the people a series of letters or a number. These people were then given a confusing picture which can either be elucidated as the letter B or as a number 13. The people who were shown numbers earlier were most probably to interpret it as number 13 and the people who were earlier shown letters were most probably to view is as the letter B. 

Culture

Culture refers to the way of life of a particular community or group that sets it apart from other communities and large groups. Culture can be defined as how people of different communities and groups lead their lives and how their way of life distinguishes them from the other large groups and communities. 

Another factor which influences how a person perceives the objects, situations and people is culture. Amazingly, it has been found by the researchers that people who belong to different cultures will perceive the depth cues and perspective differently. 

Perceptual set (A Complete Guide)

Emotions

Our emotional wellbeing and current state of emotions is a key element in determining how we feel. Our emotional state can be influential about how we tend to perceive the information presented to us visually. Different emotional states can lead us to perceive the information in a specific style which is consistent with the emotions being experienced. For instance, a person who feels afraid of darkness may perceive the shadow of the curtains hanging in the room as a ghost. Or a statue of something in his room might be perceived as a monster. 

Our perception set of the world around us can be dramatically impacted by the emotions. For instance, if a person is annoyed, he will most probably be perceiving the hostility in other people. An experiment has shown that when a person tries to connect a drivel syllable to moderate shocks of electricity, he will experience physiological reactions with that syllable even when it was given unconsciously. 

Attitudes

Our attitudes can also play an important role in influencing our perceptions. An experiment conducted by Gordon Allport shows that biases can influence how rapidly we can classify people of different backgrounds and race.

Conclusion:

Perceptual set refers to the tendency of individuals to recognize certain aspects of perception while avoiding others. Perceptual sets of individuals are based on his past experiences, his experience and his knowledge. Perceptual sets can have a survival value for individuals when certain information can help them take action immediately. 

FAQs about perceptual set

What is perception?

Perception can be defined as how the sensor data is categorized, interpreted and consciously experienced. Two types of processing are involved in perception. One is bottom to top and the other one is top to bottom.

How are our perceptions built?

Our perceptions are built through our five senses. These five senses collect sensory data based on our prior knowledge and experiences and send it to our brain. 

What is a perceptual set?

Perceptual set refers to being able to recognize what are the factors present in a sensory record and tend to avoid other aspects.

What are the factors influencing the perceptual set? 

There are different factors which influence the perceptual set. Following are the few factors:

– Attitudes

– Emotions

– Motivations

– Culture 

– Expectations. 

How a perceptual set works? 

Perceptual sets are mostly helpful for us in drawing the fair and accurate conclusions regarding the different things which exist in this world. If a person finds himself to be not right about anything, he will mostly grow fresh perceptual sets which will be fairly accurate.

What is a perceptual experience?

Perceptual experience is the presentation of what actually is being perceived. 

What are the stages of perception?

There are five stages in which a perception occurs. These are, stimulation, Organization, interpretation evaluation, memory and recalling.

References

https://socratic.org/questions/what-is-a-perceptual-set

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-perceptual-set-2795464

https://www.simplypsychology.org/perceptual-set.html

https://visual-perception.weebly.com/perceptual-set.html

Perceptual set (A Complete Guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.