An example of perception is the way children view objects differently as they develop. Early on, they only perceive individual shapes and objects, while they are later capable of recognizing relationships between objects. Another example is the phenomenon of miscommunication in which a person wrongly perceives someone's words or intentions.
Perception occurs when people organize and make sense of information gathered through their senses. Different individuals can perceive the same information differently based on a variety of personal factors. A person's educational background, past experiences, current feelings, socioeconomic status and cultural background are all factors that can influence the way a person perceives incoming information. Gender, age, race and occupation are other factors that play a role.
For example, it is common for teenagers and adults to perceive situations in very different ways. A teenager may think learning algebra is boring and pointless, while an adult with more experience may understand that strong math skills are very important in a variety of fields.
Faulty ideas about the way the world works can skew people's perceptions about their situations, explains Dr. Paul White. For example, a person may become riddled with self-doubt after applying to dozens of jobs only to receive no interviews if her college professors led her to believe it is easy to land a dream career after graduating college. Although the reality is that it is difficult to find the perfect job, her perception is that she is just not good enough.