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Perceptual Errors

Perception is the process of selection, interpretation, organization, and analysis through sensory information about the environment. In simple words, perception is about receiving information through sense organs to understand and interpret the environment. It is affected by three factors; the perceiver, the thing, and the environment.

Importance of perception

  • Provides information about the components and characteristics of the environment.
  • Prediction and understanding of an individual behavior
  • Determining various people’s need
  • Understanding others opinions and problems
  • Defining the character of an individual

Perceptual error is the inability to interpret and analyze the situation precisely. Illusion can be one of the good examples. It is about not seeing what the reality is. There is a difference between what one assumes about reality and what reality is. It can occur when one misjudges the other. This leads to a fault in proper decision-making. However, it’s not possible always to perceive what it is.

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Factors such as confusion, lack of precision in stimuli, prejudice, chaos in mind, unsuitable situation, are responsible for perceptual error.

Types of Perceptual Errors

There are various types of perceptual errors. Some of them are included below:

Selective perception

When an individual selectively interprets the information based on their field of interests, opinion, experience, and environment is termed as selective perception. In such cases, people tend to perceive not to notice and ignore the stimuli due to emotional despair. Most of the time people tend to expect what they want not what the reality is. As an example, when an employee does a team project and the project becomes successful. The whole team appreciates each other for their hard work. On the other hand, when the project fails, the same employee starts blaming the team for their bad skill and effort.

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Halo effect

An individual is perceived entirely on a single aspect or characteristic whether the situation may be promising or not. Such perception is known as a halo effect. It means if someone is good at one thing, he/she is believed to be good at everything. For instance, a student who is good at maths is acknowledged to be good at other subjects as well. But the student can be poor at other subjects.


Stereotypes refer to the tendency of categorizing general groups based on inaccurate assumptions and views to make things simple. In this, generalized assumptions are made on an individual of a group. Due to this, wrong judgment is made individual dissimilarities. Stereotypes can be positive and negative. For example, all Brazilian are good at football, boys are physically strong, extroverts are always happy,.etc.

Contrast effect

Generally, an individual is judged in comparison to others in terms of characteristics and qualities rather than in isolation. Such error in perception is called the contrast effect. This usually happens while ranking someone higher or lower in studies, sports, or the workplace.

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Projection is the likelihood of interpreting one’s own personality, attitude, and mindset into others. In this perception error, an individual judges others similar to oneself. As there is a saying, ‘To an honest man, everybody is honest.’ The judgment can be wrong based on such assumptions.


As we know that ‘First impression is the last impression.’ Usually, we evaluate someone’s characteristics and capabilities depending on their first impression. It’s not accurate all the time. This leads to perception error. For instance, a person who gave a good impression in the interview may not be best at all times in his/her job.


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