It is the way to look at things… To be more precise, it is a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something in your own personal manner. For one person the glass might be half empty and for another, half full. Our perception decides our way of living, our relationships and moreover, our way of decision making in life. Our view of something is made by our own experiences in life.
The way to perceive things depends on many factors. Some of them are- the atmosphere you have grown up in, the situations that added to your lifelong experiences, ethics of your society etc. The atmosphere you grew up in decides your mentality, your way of dressing etc. Your experiences teach you how to handle tough situations. And ethics of the society you live in helps you perceive and understand things keeping in mind you are an individual but you have to think of others around you.
What is perception? Wikipedia :
Perception (from the Latin perceptio, percipio) is the process by which an organism attains awareness or understanding of its environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs. For example, vision involves light striking the retinas of the eyes, smell is mediated by odor molecules and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive receipt of these signals, but can be shaped by learning, memory and expectation. Perception involves these “top-down” effects as well as the “bottom-up” process of processing sensory input. Perception depends on complex functions of the nervous system, but subjectively seems mostly effortless because this processing happens outside conscious awareness.
The other thing related to perception is “Illusion”. Illusion can be described as a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. The illusion is like you perceive something to be something else even it’s not.
The halo effect is a cognitive bias whereby the perception of one trait (i.e. a characteristic of a person or object) is influenced by the perception of another trait (or several traits) of that person or object. An example would be judging a good-looking person as more intelligent. It’s like your eyes couldn’t see the real person as they are shadowed by the glooming light of other characteristics.
Many experts, such as Jerry Fodor, write that the purpose of perception is knowledge, but evolutionary psychologists hold that its primary purpose is to guide action. For example, they say, depth perception seems to have evolved not to help us know the distances to other objects but rather to help us move around in space. Evolutionary psychologists say that animals from fiddler crabs to humans use eyesight for collision avoidance, suggesting that vision is basically for directing action, not providing knowledge.
But how to decide WHAT is WRONG and WHAT is RIGHT! Just to begin with, NOTHING in this world is wrong. It’s just the way we look at things. For instance, an optimist always perceives things and situations in a positive way but a pessimist is totally the opposite. To make my point clear, let me give you a scientific example. We as humans have become very advanced in science and technology but still, one question that still confuses us all is- Is this universe a big ocean or just a water drop in a huge sea! The answer is simple yet very difficult. It all depends on our Perception!
Some funny cartoon on perception :