Selective Perception And How It Impacts Your Behaviour
Most if not all of us know that two or more people will give differing account of the same event. Selective perception is one of the reasons for this.
Let’s explore a common cognitive distortion that can influence our perception and the behaviour.
What Is Selective Perception?
Selective perception’s a habitual way of thinking that makes you listen, see, and/or otherwise focus on something based on your expectations, while ignoring other information. As an Exploring Your Mind article explained, we choose the things you see, hear, and understand.
This way of thinking is rooted in the partial and biased interpretations of reality you have as a result of preconceived ideas, fears, desires, and interests. When faced with various situations, it focuses our cognitive resources on one or more expected outcomes.
In his Think Insights article, Mithun Sridharan wrote that the selective perception of others offers you insights into the attitudes, ideas, roles, thoughts, and values that are important to them. Likewise, your own selective perception can give others similar details about you.
Why, then, does it happen?
According to the Posner model, there are three stages in your perception of a message – your attention changes, it engages with the message, and it then disengages. Basically, something grabs your attention, you start processing that new information and your perception, and then you focus your attention elsewhere.
The La Berge model’s three stages complement the Posner model. Those stages include selection, preparation, and maintenance, the stage in which you perceive the message. In both models, our minds identify and use selective perception on a process, rather than on individual actions.
While this can help you avoid information overload, it also has the potential to make you overlook valuable information and insights. Let’s find out what influences us.
There are two main types of phenomena that influence our perceptions, which in turn influences your behaviour. The first is the stimulus’ nature, and the second is your internal aspects.
A stimulus’ nature includes the sensory aspects that make some stimuli more intense to your perception than others. The nature of a stimulus usually includes colour, shape, location, size, the element of surprise, and other characteristics.
The two most important internal aspects that influence your perceptions are your motivation and expectations. The things you’re interested in, and the things you expect to see or hear, are the things that you will perceive the most powerfully – and this can trigger an instinctive focusing of your attention.
Selective perception and our influences are two reasons why advertisers can use the most impactful characteristics of their products to grab your attention. They make it difficult to be objective.
You might also experience perceptual distortions such as:
- Perpetual defence – Ignoring threatening elements that have entered your perceptual field
- Selective attention – Focus solely on your interests and excluding other information
Proceed With Awareness
Selective perception happens regardless of your awareness of it or your desire for it. While you can’t prevent it from happening, you now know how it affects you. This means you can be aware of it, which allows you to put on the brakes and reconsider all the facts or clues in a situation, such as solving puzzles in our escape rooms, rather than focusing only on particular interests.