7 May 2022


Differences in Perception and Their Effect on Communication

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

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Perception is the process through which an individual receives, decodes and translates information that is relayed from another person. This process is very crucial because for communication to exist, the recipient of the information must be able to understand effectively the message that is being relayed and provide a response that can be understood by the sender of the information. It is of absolute importance that effective communication is always maintained in the society. Otherwise, the majority of life process will not be possible given that human beings are interdependent, and the only way to relay our needs to others is through communication (Adler & Towne, 2012) . In addition, communication happens to be pillar for success of most day-to-day activities as it plays a role in dispute resolution through effective dialogue. Therefore, perception can be a barrier or an enhancer of communication depending on the different aspects that the parties involved choose to view the information from.

Perception plays a very great role in the communication process because it controls the distortionary ability of the individuals involved in the process. If the people in the communication process are of different personalities, there is a great likelihood of the message being lost because of their differences in perception (Broadbent, 2011). This is because with them having different personalities, they may be interpreting information in very different ways causing a distortion of the intended message. It is therefore, necessary to address the differences in perception of the parties involved in communication to enhance effectiveness of communication.

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The differences in perception during communication are caused by some factors and the main factor being the self-perception. Self-perception refers to the way an individual feels about himself. If the individual is a person of low self-esteem, he will perceive communication differently from a person of high self-esteem. If a person said and quote…..you are smart… to a person of low self-esteem, they might perceive it to be a warning to check their dressing for imaginary dress malfunctions which may be opposite of the intended message from the sender. In that case, the perception one has placed on them has caused the person to distort the information being passed from the sender.

The environment in which the recipient of the information receives the information is also a key factor that shapes the perception of the individual. If the communication is passed in a formal environment, then the person will take it seriously and work on it as the message was delivered. However, if the message from the recipient is delivered in an informal context, then the recipient of the information may fail to perceive the seriousness of the message being communicated (Pearce, 2007). For example, during a play, an actor can tell another actor ‘you are stupid' without the other actor taking offense of the statement. However, this is only so if the information is during the cast. Otherwise, if such statements are uttered in normal day-to-day life, then a great offense is likely to arise and a conflict may subsequently follow. Such words should be keenly watched in a formal conversation as the recipient may interpret it a different way depending on the context. Therefore, for effective communication, one should always try to understand the environment in which the information is delivered to avoid wrong interpretation of the information being conveyed.

Some perceptions are based on the education and indoctrination a person has received in their life. The education we receive in our lives always affects how we perceive a variety of information that is at our disposal (Rayudu, 2010). Perception can be learned from our formal education system, religious teachings and the information we receive at home in the course of our upbringing. If you ask to take a Muslim to a bar for an alcoholic drink, he might perceive you as a person trying to destroy his religious beliefs which might not be your real intention if your religious beliefs do not prohibit the consumption of alcoholic drinks. This interpretation of what may seem a very genuine offer to a friend is a perfect example of how our learned perceptions affect how we receive and judge information that is passed to us.

Perception is also physically determined or influenced by communication. In some societies, different colors are used symbolically to convey different messages (Rayudu, 2010). For example, black in some communities may be used to symbolize a bad omen. Therefore, if you give a person in such a community a black colored gift, it may not be as appreciated as it ought to have based on the superstition associated with the color. Another case of perception that is influenced by the physicality of the communication is in communities that consider somebody standing very close to you in a bus ride as being offensive whereas in other communities, it is just a normal thing. In the North America where this culture has roots, it is very offensive to stand close to another person during a ride but in other areas such as Africa and South America, the act is not a bother. This may affect the communication between the individuals of these two cultures if they happen to find themselves in the areas that practice the opposite culture.

The culture of a given population impacts how different people respond to any information that is delivered to them. The people's cultural teachings always have a great influence on the perception with which they view communications (Pearce, 2007). For example, curse words from an elderly person in African communities will be treated as a very serious thing whereas in an American society, they are not considered to be that serious. This shows how greatly perception plays a role in the communication process in any place. Therefore, whenever we try to pass any information, we should always care about the culture of the person to avoid a misinterpretation of the relayed information.

The difference in perception is created from the very initial stages of communication called selection. As always, information delivered in any messages contains a large number of issues that needs to be addressed by the addressee. The presence of this variety of issues provides the recipient with the discretion to pick the information that appeals to their interests (Rayudu, 2010). This deliberate choice of what information to pick from a communicated message provides the room for distortion of the information being conveyed. If the appealing information selected by the recipient is different from what the sender wanted to convey, then a large part of the information is lost. This difference is caused by the apparent difference in perception of the people involved in the communication.

During selection of the information, it is necessary that all the parties involved do not let their different perceptions affect their selection of information. If the selection of information is too biased due to perception during the selection process, the communication will be broken. This explains the fact that two people can look at a simple sentence and come up with different interpretations due to their varied perceptions (Pearce, 2007). An example can be taken from this sentence that can be interpreted into two different meanings ‘we can fish'. One person can interpret it as the people referred to have the ability to fish. However, another person can interpret it to mean the people referred to in the sentence that they pack fish in cans. All this depends on the information they decide to select due to their perception.

With the selection of the information done, the mind organizes the selected data into sets that can be easily interpretable to the mind. The organization is done by creating shortcuts that will enable the mind remember and process the information by invoking the memories it already has from past experiences (Broadbent, 2011). It is the shortcuts and the roles of past experiences that provide a fertile ground for perception to influence the interpretation of given information. In the process of clustering the information into shortcuts, some of the vital information may be lost thus bringing about miscommunication. 

When it comes to the final interpretation of a message, the previous experiences, personal values and the societal expectations always play a big role in shaping the final opinion. In these case, the interpretation of the message that has been selected and organized in the mind calls upon its memory to help in interpreting the information according to its perceived specifications. At this point in time is when perception has the biggest influence on the communication (Hochberg, 2014). A person chooses to trust information received from a given individual based on previous experience with the person that shaped his perception of him or his appearance if they are meeting for the first time. A person charged to be untrustworthy may have his true message ignored because the recipient has already formed an opinion about him which blocks his mind from interpreting the information delivered correctly.

For this reason, communication can only exist when people get to manage their perceptions so that they do not cloud their interpretation of the message. A person with a strong perception on a given subject will never be able to interpret any information on it as he will always have a skewed interpretation to fit the already existing perception. In the case of communication to a group of people, the sender of the information should always consider the information that is provided to the group and pass it in a way that cannot be misconstrued by the group to mean something else (Broadbent, 2011). If due consideration is done during the communication, then the risk of miscommunication will be eliminated.

In conclusion, perception is one of the major barriers to effective communication as it has been identified above. Perception influences the interpretation of the intended message and thus if interpreted in the wrong way, then the intended message will be lost. In the process of delivering information, the sender of the information should consider a variety of factors before packaging his message protect it from being distorted by the perception of the other person. The sender of the information should consider the education of the recipient because as it has been established, the learning or education a person has undergone can influence his perception of given information. On the other hand, the person ought to look at the self-perception of the recipient and their personality too to avoid wrong interpretations in case the person has low self-esteem.


Adler, R., & Towne, N. (2012). Looking out/looking in . New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Broadbent, D. (2011). Perception and communication . New York: Pergamon Press.

Hochberg, J. (2014). Perception . Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Pearce, W. (2007). Making social worlds . Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

Rayudu, C. (2010). Communication . Mumbai [India]: Himalaya Pub. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Differences in Perception and Their Effect on Communication.


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