Selective perception

From CEOpedia | Management online

Selective perception - this is a tendency not to weigh down and react quickly to things that may have caused discomfort to the individual at an earlier stage. For example, when we notice that one of the torturers makes inappropriate movements in the direction of the injured person. However, by feeling that it states that it is only in its direction, and that it never hurts us, we refry from taking any action. This process boils down to, among other things, the ignoring of other points of view by specific individuals. The lack of possibility of emotional empathy in the alternative course of reasoning makes them perceive reality in zero one way. As a result, they are unable to look critically at certain behaviours, to draw conclusions, because very often they are guided only by their beliefs.

Psychological approach

Selective perception refers to cognitive science. It is the Unseen that the individual perception of the individual's specific moral situations is studied. The classic psychological modeling of this phenomenon is the hostile media effect. It specifically concerns a football match between football players, where supporters of specific teams were presented with the most aggressive clashes. A supporter of a particular team was able to attribute much more broken rules to their opponents than they actually did to them [1].

The above experiment confirmed, that people have a tendency to sympathise with specific phenomena, which are convenient for them. Very often they demonise or underestimate other possible concepts, as it is more convenient for them to accept something they already know from the truth. Thus, they are able to loose a lot of valuable information or limit their way of seeing [2].

Selective perception in business

Similarly, a given phenomenon occurs in business. While it is not yet so dangerous in everyday life, it can have a negative impact on the running of a business. This is due to the fact that by limiting his perception, a trader can:

  • not to enter into a profitable business with other entrepreneurs;
  • with its attitude to discourage another entrepreneur from concluding a business;
  • not to see a potential opportunity that could be profitable.

It is therefore possible to counteract these phenomena by building an attitude of openness to otherness and diversity. This allows us to expand our markets, understand other cultures and implement new products and services. This behaviour at a later stage equals an increased return on sales.

Bearing the above in mind, it is always necessary to put aside all personal and individual beliefs with a business approach and think purely analytically. Thanks to the distribution of a given enterprise into the first factors (not in the context of beliefs but objective premises), the entrepreneur is able to obtain many valuable business contacts and conclude profitable business contracts. Such action should reduce selective perception in the daily life of a company [3].

Examples of Selective perception

  • A common example of selective perception is when people focus selectively on certain groups of people or ideas based on their own beliefs and biases. For example, a person may be more likely to believe negative stories about a certain racial group or political party due to their own biases or beliefs about that group or party.
  • Selective perception can also manifest itself in the workplace. For example, a manager may be more likely to give praise to employees who share their same values or beliefs, while ignoring the accomplishments of those who do not.
  • In the media, selective perception can also be seen in how certain stories are covered. For example, a news outlet may be more likely to cover stories which align with their political leanings, while ignoring stories which do not.
  • In social situations, selective perception can also lead to people making snap judgments about others based on their appearance or the way they speak. For example, someone may assume that someone who is dressed differently or speaks with an accent is less intelligent or has lower status.

Advantages of Selective perception

One advantage of selective perception is that it can help us to filter out unnecessary information and focus on the important facts. It also allows us to make decisions faster and easier by concentrating on the relevant details. Additionally, selective perception helps us to make sense of complex situations and to better understand what is happening. Furthermore, it can also help us to form accurate impressions of people and situations quickly. Lastly, it can be used to make judgments and decisions in a more efficient and effective manner.

Limitations of Selective perception

  • Selective perception can lead to bias and prejudice as individuals may only be looking for information that confirms their preconceived beliefs and ideas, and ignoring any information that contradicts it.
  • It can lead to a distorted view of reality, as individuals are not looking at all the evidence, but only that which fits with their own beliefs and values.
  • It can lead to incorrect decisions being made, as individuals are not taking all the facts and evidence into account when making decisions.
  • It can lead to false assumptions being made as individuals are not looking at all of the facts, but only those which confirm their own beliefs and values.
  • Selective perception can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding, as individuals are unable to empathize with the experiences and perspectives of others.

Other approaches related to Selective perception

Selective perception is a phenomenon that involves the tendency to ignore certain stimuli, and to focus on those that we find comfortable or familiar. There are several other approaches related to selective perception.

  • Cognitive Dissonance: This is a psychological phenomenon wherein individuals tend to reduce the dissonance between their beliefs and behavior by changing their attitudes and beliefs to be more in line with their actions. For example, someone who believes that violence is wrong but is involved in a violent situation may find themselves re-evaluating their beliefs in order to justify their actions.
  • Confirmation Bias: This is a phenomenon in which individuals will seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs and biases, and reject or ignore information that contradicts those beliefs. For example, someone who believes in a certain political ideology may seek out media sources that reinforce that ideology and avoid or discredit sources that contradict it.
  • Belief Perseverance: This is the tendency for individuals to continue holding onto beliefs even after being presented with evidence that contradicts those beliefs. For example, someone may continue to believe in the efficacy of a certain medical treatment despite being presented with evidence that it does not work.
  • Anchoring Effect: This is a phenomenon in which individuals rely too heavily on the first piece of information they receive when making a decision. For example, when making an investment decision, a person may be too heavily influenced by the first piece of advice they receive and not take into consideration any other information.

In summary, selective perception is a phenomenon that involves the tendency to ignore certain stimuli, and to focus on those that we find comfortable or familiar. There are several other approaches related to selective perception, including cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, belief perseverance, and anchoring effect. Understanding these different concepts can help us better understand how our own biases and beliefs are influencing our decision-making processes.

Selective perceptionrecommended articles
Behavioral theoryBlame cultureBias for actionAcquired needs theoryGroup conformityCognitive dissonance theorySales techniquesAnalysis paralysisAttitudes and behaviour



  1. Ashby Plant E., Kunstman J. G. and J. W., (2011) p. 2-10
  2. Sulflow M., Schafer S., Winter S., (2018) p. 169-190
  3. Starcke K., Brand K., (2012) p. 1228-1248

Author: Martyna Barłóg