Perception is a process consisting of several sub-processes. We can take an input-throughput-output approach to understand the dynamics of the perceptual process. This approach emphasizes that there is input, which is processed and gives output. The stimuli in the environment - subjects, events, or people - can be considered as the perceptual inputs. The actual transformation of these inputs through the perceptual mechanisms of selection, organization, and interpretation can be treated as the throughputs , and the resultant opinions, feelings, attitudes, etc, which ultimately influence our behavior, can be viewed as the perceptual outputs. The whole perceptual process can be presented as follows:
1) Perceptual input/stimuli: the first process in the perceptual processes is the presence of stimuli like people, objects, events, information etc. though the presence of stimulus is necessary for perception; it is not the actual process of perception. Nevertheless the perception process can not start in the absence of stimuli.
2) Perceptual mechanism: the actual perception starts with the receipt of information, or data (of stimuli) from various sources. The receipt of stimuli is a psychological aspect of the perception process. And most perceptual inputs are received from various sensory inputs. One sees things, hears them, smells, tastes, or touches them and learns other aspects of the things thus; reception of stimuli is a physiological aspect of perception process.
3) Selection of stimuli: after receiving the stimuli or data, some are selected for further processing while others are screened out because it is not possible for a person to select all stimuli for processing to attach meaning, which he receives from the environment. Two types of factors affect the selection of stimuli for processing: external factors or factors related to stimuli and internal factors or factors related to the perceiver. Important eternal factors are intensity of stimulus, its size contrast, movement, repetition, familiarity, strange characteristics, etc. such features of the stimulus attract the attention of perceiver more as compared to other stimuli. Internet factors important to selection of stimuli are the perceiver's self-acceptance, etc. such factors of the perceiver influence his interest or indifference in the objects being received for prevention. Normally, he will select the objects, which interest him and will avoid that for which he is indifferent.
4) Organization of stimuli: after the data have been selected, these are organized in some form in order to make sense out of them. Such organization of stimuli may take the form of figure-ground, grouping, simplifications, and closure.
I. Figure and ground: people tend to organize information on what is known as the figure ground principle. This involves that in perceiving stimuli or phenomena, the tendency is to keep certain phenomena in focus and other phenomena in the background. Figure is perceived to be dominant and more attention is paid to it. While ground is given less prominence and attention and is kept in the background.
II. Grouping: in grouping the perceiver groups the various stimuli on the basis of their similarity or proximity. Thus, all such stimuli, which have been grouped together, are likely to be perceived as having same characteristics. For example, all the workers may be perceived to have some opinions about the management because of grouping on the basis of similarity, or all the persons coming from the same place may be perceived as having same characteristics because of grouping on the basis of proximity.
III. Simplification: whenever people are overloaded with information, they try to simplify it to make it more meaningful and understandable. In the process of simplification, the perceiver subtracts less salient information and concentrates on important one. Simplification makes the things more understandable because the perceiver has been able to reduce the complexity by eliminating some of the things, which are less important.
IV. Closer: when faced with incomplete information, people fill up the gaps themselves to make the information meaningful. This may be some on the basis of past experience, past data, or hunches. For example, in many advertisements, alphabets are written by putting electric bulls indicating the shape of the concerned alphabets but broken lines. In such cases, people tend to fill up the gap among different bulbs to get meaning out of these.
5) Action: the last phase of the perceptual process is that of acting in relation to what has been perceived. This is the output aspect of perceptual process. The action may be overt. The covert action may be in the form of change in attitudes, opinions, feelings, values, and impression formation resulting from the perceptual inputs and throughputs. The overt action may be in the form of behavior easily visible.