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How Environmental Variables & Other Factors Influence Perception

How Environmental Variables & Other Factors Influence Perception
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  • 0:00 Perception
  • 1:28 Physiological Influences
  • 2:10 Psychological Influences
  • 2:40 Social Influences
  • 5:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michele Chism

Michele is presently a part time adjunct instructor at Faulkner University in the Counselor Education Department where she teaches Measurement and Assessment and Diagnosis and Treatment. I formerly taught at the University of West Alabama where I taught School Counseling and College Student Development Counseling. I was also the Student Success Coordinator for the College of Education.

Have you ever wondered why people can look at the same thing and see it completely different? What things influence that difference? In this lesson, we will learn what some of those variables are that affect our perception.

Perception

If you have several people observe a robbery, and then they are interviewed by the police, even though everyone observed the very same thing, everyone's description of the event and the people involved will be completely different. Why does this happen? In this lesson, we will learn how our perception is influenced by many variables. Perception is a subjective, active, and creative process in which we interpret what we sense by assigning meaning to sensory information through which we understand ourselves and others. Several variables influence our perception of environmental variables, our motivations, our past experiences, culture, and daily experiences. It's no wonder we all see the same thing differently!

The perceptual process is a sequence of steps that begins with stimuli in the environment and ends with our interpretation of that stimulus. From that, we select unconsciously one thing in our environment, from one of our five senses, that becomes the attended stimuli. Let's look at three of the main environmental variables that can influence perception: physiological, psychological, and social.

Physiological Influences

Physiological influences come from the physical environment and the ways we are different from each other. We all receive sensory information differently, which can affect personal relationships. Age, or the older we are, allows for greater experience and scope, and these developmental differences shape our perceptions. Health, exhaustion, and hunger also affect our perception and communication. Other physiological factors influence perceptions, including biological cycles like menstrual cycles, body temperature, alertness, stress tolerance, and even neurological factors such as ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Psychological Influences

How we feel at the time, or our mood, can have a significant effect on how we view people and events. If we are in a positive mood, we are more likely to view other people and our environment positively, but if we are in a negative mood, it may affect things negatively. Although mood may be a temporary condition, our self concept, or the way we see and feel about ourselves, has long-term influence on how we perceive others and their behaviors.

Social Influences

Our position in society also shapes our view of society and individual members. Our socioeconomic level, family background, and position in the community all will influence our perception of others. Our occupational role, perception of that role by society, and educational background influence how we see things around us. Our gender and relational roles, such as family members and friends, are perceived differently than others. We also are strongly influenced by our culture and its interpretation, organization, and negotiation. For example, if you are a female in some Arabic countries, you are expected to wear a burka. If you are not covered, you will not only be perceived negatively, but could find yourself in a dangerous position. However, in parts of the United States, it is unusual to see a woman in a burka, and it might draw second looks.

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