Perception: Attempt to develop explanations of why things are in a certain way.
Whenever any individual joins some organization; one observes people and their behavior. Then he/she attempts to develop explanation about, why people behave in certain manner. This is the perception of that individual about the environment around him/her. Thus Perception is the process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.
Perception of an individual is caused because of External and Internal factors.
Whenever behavior of an individual is under his/her control it is known as internally caused behavior. E.g. coming late in office because of oversleep, is an internally influenced behavior. Such behavior is known as Internally caused behavior.
Also when individual behave because of outside causes is known as externally caused behavior. E.g. coming late in office because of traffic jam or some other such reason is an externally influenced behavior. Such behavior is known as Externally caused behavior.
Attribution Theory: When individuals observe behavior, they attempt to determine whether it is internally or externally caused
Attribution theory is mainly of three phases.
· Attribution of Cause.
Individual behavior comes under observation.
Interpretation is of following three types
1. Distinctiveness: Refers to whether an individual display different behavior in different situations. If individual always shows the same behavior, it is internally caused behavior, else if the behavior is unusual one then it is caused because of External things. E.g. If one individual always comes late in office then it is an internally caused behavior but if he/she seldom comes late then we can say that this is because of external causes.
2. Consensus: Whether in similar situation, everyone responses in the same manner. If everyone behaves in similar way then consensus is high, i.e. the behavior is externally caused. E.g. If all employees who use same route to come to office; come late, then this can said to be an externally caused behavior. If consensus is low then the behavior is internally caused.
3. Consistency: This is refers to the consistency in the behavior of an individual. Does the person responses same way over time, again and again. If yes then it is said to be internally caused behavior, otherwise it is an externally caused behavior.
Whenever any organization uses Attribution Theory, there are biases or errors those distorts attributions.
Fundamental attribution error is the tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and over estimate then influence of internal factors when making judgments about the behavior of others.
Self-serving bias is the tendency for individual to attribute their own success to internal factor, while putting the blame for failures on external factors.
E.g. if one member of the sales team is making calls to the customers, but neither of them is replying, then other team members may blame on the laziness of the 1st member, this is an fundamental attribution error in perceiving the behavior.
Also if some case customer itself needs some product of an organization he/she calls the sales person, then that sales person might take pride in saying that, he/she made the deal possible, this is a Self-serving bias.
Frequently used short-cuts in judging others are as follows
· Selective Perception: People selectively interpret what they see on the basis of their interest, background, experiences and attitude.
· Halo effect: Drawing a general impression about an individual on the basis of a single characteristics.
· Contrast effects: Evaluation of the person's characteristics that one affected by comparisons with other people recently encountered who rank higher or lower on the same characteristics.
· Projection: Attributing one's own characteristics to other people.
· Stereotyping: Judging someone on the basic of one's perception of the group to which that person belongs.
Specific applications in Organizations
In any organization judgment happens on the basis of performance. And Performance of employees' is related to their perceptions too.
Employment Interview: Employees are employed on the basis of perceptual judgments of interviewer. Also the perception about the employee may be different by different interviewers. Many times in organizations interview is very common application for the employee's performance; and this is heavily influenced by personal perception of interviewer.
Performance Expectations: People's expectations determine their behavior. Self-fulfilling prophecy is a situation in which one person inaccurately perceives a second person and the resulting expectations cause the second person to behave in ways consistent with the original perception.
Ethnic Profiling: A form of stereotyping in which a group of individuals is singled out- typically on the basis of the race or ethnicity- for intensive inquiry, scrutinizing, or investigation.
Performance Evaluation: An employee's performance appraisal is very much dependent on the perceptual process.
Employee Effort: Many organizations give more importance for the employee's performance rather his/her perception in the organization. As assessment of an individual's effort is a subjective judgment susceptible to perceptual distortions and bias.