The perceptual process allows us to experience the world around us. Take a moment to think of all the things you perceive on a daily basis. At any given moment, you might see familiar objects in your environment, feel the touch of objects and people against your skin, smell the aroma of a home-cooked meal and hear the sound of music playing in your next door neighbor’s apartment. All of these things help make up our conscious experience and allow us to interact with the people and objects around us.
In this overview of perception and the perceptual process, we will learn more about how we go from detecting stimuli in the environment to actually taking action based on that information.
What Is Perception?
Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about properties and elements of the environment that are critical to our survival. Perception not only creates our experience of the world around us; it allows us to act within our environment.
Perception includes the five senses; touch, sight, taste smell and taste. It also includes what is known as proprioception, a set of senses involving the ability to detect changes in body positions and movements. It also involves the cognitive processes required to process information, such as recognizing the face of a friend or detecting a familiar scent.
The perceptual process is a sequence of steps that begins with the environment and leads to our perception of a stimulus and an action in response to the stimulus. This process is continual, but you do not spend a great deal of time thinking about the actual process that occurs when you perceive the many stimuli that surround you at any given moment.
The process of transforming the light that falls on your retinas into an actual visual image happens unconsciously and automatically. The subtle changes in pressure against your skin that allow you to feel object occur without a single thought.
In order to fully understand how the perception process works, we’ll start by breaking down each step. The Steps in the Perceptual Process:
- The Environmental Stimulus
- The Attended Stimulus
- The Image on the Retina
- Neural Processing
- Recognition Action
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