Chapter 2, ‘Perception’, in your textbook; and
Skydiving, by Celsi, Leigh and Rose (Blackboard)
At the conclusion of this module you should be able to: * Understand the perceptual process; * Understand sensory thresholds and related concepts. * Understand the relevance to marketing.
This session is the first of those that focus on the internal dynamics of the individual consumer. Each of us is, to a certain degree, self contained and when we are subjected to the same external influences as other individuals we react in different ways. Our personal and unique thoughts, feelings, beliefs, experiences, knowledge, and attitudes determine not only how we will perceive stimuli from our environment but also how we will interpret objects, events and behaviours. In effect the next six sessions will focus upon the way in which individuals allocate meaning to their world.
Cognition and affect
In studying human behaviour we need to understand the two psychological responses which individuals have to their environment, namely feelings and thoughts. These are referred to in consumer behaviour terms as affect and cognition. Early research in consumer behaviour viewed cognition as the primary activator and dominant modifier in decision making while affect was considered little more than a minor influencing factor on the cognitive process. During the eighties the role played by the affective system gained considerable attention and it is now generally accepted that affect is of equal, if not greater importance than, cognition as a determining factor in how people behave.
Affect refers to human emotions, moods, feelings and evaluations that are triggered by either environmental stimuli such as objects and the behaviour of others or by the individual's own behaviour or even imagination, which is termed cognitive imagery. In many cases of course, it is triggered by some combination of these. The four affective responses vary in their level of arousal and in the intensity with which individuals experience them.
The strongest of the affective responses such as emotions, for example, usually involve the arousal of the individual's physiological system resulting in such responses as sweating, crying or fear. This response of the affective system is usually automatic and immediate and beyond the control of the individual. While individuals often cannot control the responses caused by their affective system they can avoid or remove themselves from the situation that is causing it to occur. The influence of this affective arousal on thought processes and persuasion is not yet fully understood but it is recognised that the affective state does influence both individuals' cognitive processes and their behaviour.
Cognition is concerned with thinking and language processes. It is the mental process that individuals use to interpret their environment by making sense of stimuli and events that occur and by giving them meaning. Cognition is also the process by which an individual forms plans of action which are used to assist in decision making. To achieve these tasks the cognitive system creates cognitive representations that represent the meaning of objects, events or behaviour. These are both individual and subjective, depending upon each person's interpretation. This in turn will vary, depending upon their knowledge and previous experiences. These cognitive representations include symbolic meanings of objects, events and behaviour including an individual's own behaviour and even an individual's own affective reactions. You should realise that although many cognitive processes are minimal and even automatic and unconscious, cognition still occurs.
The symbolic representations that the cognitive system develops to provide meaning includes; symbols such as * maps that individuals use for spatial relationships; * musical notes that