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What is Perception Bias – Types & Examples

Published by at July 11th, 2023 , Revised On October 5, 2023

Perception bias affects people all around the world. We all perceive situations differently because of the biases we have towards others—for instance, bias towards the opposite gender, race, or certain situations. Let’s understand this bias in detail, but before that, let’s comprehend the definition of perception bias. 

What is Perception Bias?

Perception bias is the systematic errors or distortions in which people see and interpret information based on their preconceived conceptions, stereotypes, or cognitive filters. 

It happens when our perceptions are shaped by unintentional prejudices, unique experiences, cultural contexts, or social conditioning, causing us to perceive information in a biased and subjective way.  The biased perception impacts our ability to see and judge others, interpret events or situations, and make judgements. 

How Does Perception Bias Happen?

Perceptual selection bias, commonly called “perceptive bias,” is a cognitive bias in which people favour information that supports their opinions, expectations, or attitudes. It is a phenomenon that can affect how people view and understand their surroundings.

Perception of bias distorts judgments, as preconceived notions cloud objective interpretation, leading to biased assessments. Bias perception shapes our understanding, filtering information through subjective lenses and distorting reality. 

The following are a few points explaining why perception bias occurs:

Cognitive Filters

Our brains instinctively filter information to make sense of the world around us. Our views, values, and prior experiences can all impact these filters. As a result, we might focus more on information that supports our preexisting beliefs and ignore or filter out information that goes against them.

Confirmation Bias

When we actively seek out and analyse data in a way that supports our preconceived views or hypotheses, we are said to be biased in this way. Evidence that challenges our beliefs is frequently disregarded or minimised, confirming our preconceived notions. For more information, here is a complete article about confirmation bias.

Stereotypes and Social Conditioning

Our social and cultural settings greatly impact how we perceive the world. Consequently, we may judge individuals or groups based on stereotypes and cultural biases.

Emotional Factors

Our feelings affect how we see and interpret information. Strong emotional attachments or biases can skew how we remember and perceive events, resulting in erroneous impressions.

We naturally gravitate towards information that supports our preexisting ideas or is relevant to our interests, blocking out or ignoring information contrary to those beliefs. Once you understand this type of cognitive bias, you can easily determine how you can begin to notice perception bias.

What are the Different Types of Perception Bias?

The following are three different types of perception biases:

Visual Perception Bias

Biases that may exist in our visual perception of the outside environment are called visual perception biases. It includes optical illusions, in which our perception of objects or patterns is warped, and subjective biases in judging colours, forms, or sizes.

Example of Visual Perception Bias 

An example of visual perception bias is the Müller-Lyer illusion. This illusion consists of two lines with arrow-like markings at the ends, one with inward arrows and the other with outward arrows. Even though the two lines are actually the same length, our visual perception is biased, and we tend to perceive the line with outward arrows as longer than the one with inward arrows.

Self-Perception Bias

Biases that affect how we view ourselves are referred to as self-perception biases. Self-evaluation, self-image, and self-awareness biases are examples of this. For instance, people may have the propensity to overestimate their skills or credit internal variables with success and external factors with failure.

Example Self-Perception Bias 

One example of self-perception bias is the “better-than-average effect.” This bias refers to the tendency for individuals to perceive themselves as above average in various domains, such as intelligence, driving skills, or work performance. Despite the statistical impossibility of everyone being above average, this bias highlights our inclination to see ourselves in a more positive light.

Social Perception Bias

Biases that influence how we view and understand other individuals are social perception biases. It includes prejudices like stereotyping when we judge people based on their membership in a particular group. 

What are Some Examples of Perception Bias From Daily Life?

The following are some perception bias examples:

Examples of Perception Bias in the Workplace

What is perception bias in the workplace? Let’s understand perception bias in the workplace with the following example. Suppose an employee, Alex, is relatively quiet and reserved during team meetings. 

Their colleagues, who have extroverted personalities, perceive Alex as disengaged or lacking valuable input. Due to this perception bias, they may need to consider Alex’s ideas or contributions significant, leading to their opinions being overlooked or undervalued during decision-making processes. 

Consequently, Alex’s opportunities for growth or recognition within the organisation may be limited, despite their competence and expertise in their field.

Perception bias psychology can be studied in various contexts, such as social perception and cognitive psychology,

Example of Selective Perception Bias in Decision Making

Two job candidates, John and Mary, are being considered for a promotion. The decision-maker, who has a preexisting belief that men are generally more competent in leadership roles, tends to focus on and interpret information that supports this belief selectively. 

They might emphasise John’s leadership experiences and downplay Mary’s similar achievements. As a result, they may be more inclined to favour John over Mary for the promotion, even if their qualifications and performance are similar.

In this example, the decision-maker’s elective perception bias leads them to selectively perceive and interpret information confirming their preexisting beliefs about gender and leadership. This bias can cloud their judgment and hinder objective decision-making, potentially resulting in an unfair outcome.

Example of Social Perception Bias

Suppose there is a job interview where two candidates, Sarah and Ahmed, are being evaluated. The interviewer holds a stereotype that women are less competent in technical fields compared to men.

 As a result, during the interview, the interviewer may unconsciously interpret Sarah’s responses as less knowledgeable or less capable, even if she provides well-reasoned answers. 

Conversely, the interviewer may overlook or discount any potential weaknesses in Ahmed’s responses due to the assumption that men are more competent in technical roles.

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Example of Perception Bias in Stereotyping in Social Interactions

Someone might hold a stereotype that people from a certain ethnic group are generally unfriendly. When they encounter an individual from that group who behaves in a neutral or reserved manner, they may interpret it as confirmation of their stereotype, disregarding the possibility that the person’s behaviour may be influenced by factors unrelated to their ethnicity.

Example of Perception Bias in Hiring Decisions

Perception bias can also influence hiring decisions. A hiring manager might have a preconceived notion that candidates who graduate from prestigious universities are more competent. 

Consequently, they may focus more on the qualifications and achievements of applicants from these universities while undervaluing the skills and experiences of candidates from less prestigious institutions.

Example of Perception Bias in In-Group Favouritism

In-group favouritism is a bias where individuals tend to perceive and treat members of their own group more positively than those from outside the group. For example, a person who belongs to a specific sports team might view the actions of their team’s players more leniently than similar actions by players from opposing teams. 

Example of Perception Bias Beauty Standards

Beauty bias is a perception bias where individuals tend to perceive physically attractive people more positively and attribute positive qualities to them. In various contexts, such as hiring, social interactions, or even criminal justice, attractive individuals may be perceived as more trustworthy, competent, or truthful, irrespective of their abilities or character. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Perception bias is the systematic errors or distortions in which people see and interpret information based on their preconceived conceptions, stereotypes, or cognitive filters.

There are three different types of perception biases:

  • Visual perception bias
  • Self-Perception Bias
  • Social Perception Bias

Beauty bias is a perception bias where individuals tend to perceive physically attractive people more positively and attribute positive qualities to them.

It is a cognitive bias in which people favour information supporting their opinions, expectations, or attitudes.

About Owen Ingram

Avatar for Owen IngramIngram is a dissertation specialist. He has a master's degree in data sciences. His research work aims to compare the various types of research methods used among academicians and researchers.