What Are the Five Stages of Perception?

Picture Courtesy: [SofieZborilova/Pixabay]

There are five stages of perception. Perception is the way humans see the world and relate to their experiences. These five stages include stimulation, organization, interpretation, memory and recall. Each stage is important to help us understand the world and the information around us.


When you’re stimulated, something comes to your attention. The five senses stimulate people. They include smelling, seeing, hearing, tasting and touching. Your eyes are the most common receptors for stimulation, but tasting a delicious meal or smelling a cinnamon pinecone can be just as stimulating. You have access to a variety of stimuli throughout the day, from the moment you hear your alarm in the morning until the second you feel the pillow beneath your head as you fall asleep each night.


Your body spreads large amounts of information throughout the body. Your brain recognizes familiar ideas and concepts and connects them with past experiences. This allows your brain to understand what is happening. During this phase, receptors in your body construct mental representations of the stimulation you experience. This is called a percept. They help us arrange ideas in our minds with the help of patterns. Patterns help us group our ideas so that we can interpret them.


When your body recognizes events and features, you apply your own experiences and biases. You evaluate your own experience and relate it to your past, values and beliefs. This helps you determine how to react to situations in front of you. When we interpret information, we give it meaning.

While our brains typically do a great job of organizing stimuli, it can cause some perceptions to be misguided or misinterpreted. One way in which this happens is through stereotypes.

Additionally, interpretation is subjective. This means that each person can have a different opinion or understanding of the same stimulus.


When your body stores events and moments in your brain, they become part of your memory. You will build associations between these moments and your personal beliefs and experiences. Memories can relate to good or bad experiences. You may not even realize you have a memory stored until another stimuli reminds you of something that happened.

Your body stores not only the specific stimuli you experienced, but also your feelings about them. For example, you might store a memory of walking with your father at the park as a positive memory. You might store a memory of being lost and scared as a negative memory.


You can even recall moments from your life to evaluate them. When you do this, you bring a perceived event to your mind to retrieve details. When you recall moments often, you can begin to do so more accurately. You may also realize that over time, the memories you are able to recall change. Your recall may even change some elements of the memory.

Perception ultimately helps people of different experiences assign meaning to information and events in their lives. Each person also perceives events differently from others. This makes perception subjective.