13 June 2007

Perception & Reality

Ever wonder about the relationship between perception and reality? I do - quite often, actually. And contrary to the cliche, my assessment is that perception is not reality.

In fact, perception isn't even really perception. It's quite common for people to think we see things that we don't really see (or to fail to see things which are really there).

Examples run from the way our sense of smell stops detecting a strong scent after we're exposed to it for a few minutes (even though the smell is still present), to the wildy varied reports given by witnesses at car accidents or crime scenes.

The reality is, our perceptions are driven by our own mental models, expectations and other internal processes, as much as they are by external stimuli. Perception is what happens in your brain. Reality, on the otherhand, is out there somewhere.


Michelle said...

True. When you need facts, reality is out there somewhere between all the mess. But, we can't rule out the importance of perception, especially when dealing with interactions or relationships between people.

Dan said...

Good point about the importance of perception, particularly in relationships.

Perceptions are indeed important, and it's smart to think about what other people are perceiving.

And since perception might not line up with reality, the wisest course is to give people the benefit of the doubt...