What is Perception in Organizational Behavior ?
Perception is process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.
Factors That Influence Perception:
Why when we observe people, we attempt to develop explanations of why they behave in certain ways. Our perception and judgment of a person’s actions, therefore, will be significantly influenced by the assumptions we make about that person’s internal state.
Attribution theory tries to explain the ways in which we judge people differently, depending on the meaning we attribute to a given behavior. It suggests that, when we observe an individual’s behavior, we attempt to determine whether it was internally or externally caused. That determination depends largely on three factors:
First let’s clarify the differences between internal and external causation.
Internally caused behaviors are those we believe to be under the personal control of the individual.
Externally caused behavior is what we imagine the situation forced the individual to do.
Let’s now discuss three determining factors:
Distinctiveness: refers to whether an individual displays different behaviors in different situations.
Consensus: If everyone who faces a similar situation responds in the same way, we can say the behavior shows consensus.
Consistency: The more consistent the behavior, the more we are inclined to attribute it to internal causes.
Frequently Used Shortcuts in Judging Others:
Generally, we use a number of shortcuts when we judge others. These techniques are frequently valuable; they allow us to make accurate perceptions rapidly and provide valid data for making predictions.
The tendency to selectively interpret what one sees on the basis of one’s interests, background, experience, and attitudes. Any characteristics that make a person, an object, or an event stand out will increase the probability that we will perceive it. Why? Because it is impossible for us to assimilate everything we see; we can take in only certain stimuli.
When we draw a general impression about an individual on the basis of single characteristics, such as intelligence, sociability, or appearance, that’s a halo effect is operating.
The reality of the halo effect was confirmed in a classic study in which subjects were given a list of traits such as intelligent, skillful, practical, industrious, determined, and warm and asked to evaluate the person to whom those traits applied. Subject judged the person to be wise, humorous, popular, and imaginative. When the same list was modified to include cold instead of warm, a completely different picture emerged. Clearly the subjects were allowing a single trait to influence their overall impression of the person they were judging.
This effects evaluation of a person’s characteristics, which is affected by comparisons with other people, recently encountered who rank higher or lower on the same characteristics.
An old adage among entertainers says, “Never follow an act that has kids or animal in it.” Why? Audience’s love children and animals so much that you’ll look bad in comparison. This example demonstrates how contrast effects can distort perceptions.
When we judge someone on the basis of our perception of the group to which he or she belongs, we are using the shortcut called stereotyping.
One of the problems of stereotypes is that they are widespread and often useful generalizations, despite the fact that they may not contain a shred of truth when applied to a particular person or situation. So we constantly have to check ourselves to make sure we’re not unfairly or inaccurately applying a stereotype in our evaluations and decisions.
Specific Applications of Shortcuts in Organizations
People in organizations are always judging each other. Managers must appraise their employee’s performances. We evaluate how much effort our coworkers are putting into their job.
- Employment Interview
- Performance Expectations
- Performance Evaluation
A major input into who is hired and who is rejected in an organization is the employment interview. It’s fair to say that few people are hired without an interview. But evidence indicates that interviewers make perceptual judgments that are often inaccurate. They generally draw early impressions that very quickly become entrenched. We form impressions of others within a tenth of second, based on our first glance at them. If these first impressions are negative, they tend to be more heavily weighted in the interview than if that same information came out later. Most interviewers’ decisions change very little after the first 4 or 5 minutes of an interview.
People attempt to validate their perceptions of reality, even when those perceptions are faulty. This characteristic is particularly relevant when we consider performance expectations on the job. The terms self-fulfilling prophecy and Pygmalion effect have evolved to characterize the fact that an individual’s behavior is determined by other people’s expectations.
An employee’s future is closely tied to the appraisal obvious outcomes. Although the appraisal can be objective, many jobs are evaluated in subjective terms. Subjective evaluations of performance, though often necessary, are problematic because all the errors we have discussed thus far – selective perception, contrast effects, halo effects, and so on affect them.
The Link between Perception and Individual Decision Making
Individual in organizations make decisions. That is, they make choices from among two or more alternatives. Top managers, for instance, determine their organizations goals, what products or services to offer, how best to finance operations, where to locate a new manufacturing plant.
Middle and lower level managers determine production schedules, select new employees, and decide how pay raises are to be allocated. Making decisions is not the sole province of managers.
Non-managerial employees also make decisions that affect their jobs and the organizations for which they work. They decide whether to come to work on any given day, how much effort to put forth at work, and whether to comply with a request made by the boss. Individual decision making, therefore, is an important part of organizational behavior. But, how individuals in organizations making decisions and the quality of their final choices are largely influenced by their perceptions.