What Is Perceptual Judgment?

Physical activities such as ball throwing rely on reasonable perceptual judgement.
... Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Every day in our lives we make judgements on a number of both large and small matters. The way in which we make these judgements is mainly based on sensory experiences and is influenced by those we’ve encountered since our earliest childhood; this is often termed perceptual judgement. These judgements can be made without us even realizing, and we tend to draw on what we’ve experienced before, especially when these experiences have been repeated on multiple occasions.

1 Judgements of Self

Perceptual judgement can be found in a variety of situations. Some of these can be found in relation to the self. For example, from an early age an individual develops a sense of herself in terms of her own body image and even how much space she takes up. Perceptual judgement is used to work out where a person is physically in relation to others, which is a useful skill even for small kids moving around a room if they’re to avoid knocking into others.

Perception of time in relation to the self helps too when it comes to making appointments, for example. Over a person’s life, she builds up a sense of how long tasks take, so that she can judge how much time to allot to accomplishing them.

2 Perceptual Judgement of Others

Perceptual judgement occurs in relation to other people, too. In the workplace or in social situations, for example, judgement takes place whenever new people meet or gradually as individuals get to know one another. Perceptual judgement in these situations is typically based sensory stimuli a person has experienced before. For example, at a job interview, two colleagues may garner a different impression of an interviewee due to their respective prior experiences. If the interviewee appears scruffy, this can inspire an immediate perceptual judgement against this candidate.

3 Judgement Difficulties

Perceptual judgements can often prove to be inaccurate since they rely on the sensory stimuli available at one particular time, and these stimuli may be heavily affected by circumstances. In the case of interviewers talking to a candidate, what individuals perceive at the start of the interview may heavily influence their opinion of the interviewee, even if they later receive information that should change their opinion. The senses may alternatively be impaired or it may be difficult for the human body to cope with the speed of the sensory input. For example, trying to read a map from far away is tough because of the small size of the information, and trying to turn a corner quickly may be difficult because of the driver's high speed.

4 Improving Perceptual Judgements

Improving perceptual judgement can aid people immensely, and so work may be done, especially during childhood, to enable this. Developing a substantial bank of sensory experiences to draw from allows an individual greater ability to make perceptual judgements, and means that automatic judgements are made successfully more often. In childhood, programs that aim to enable better perceptual judgements often involve activities such as bowling, jumping or throwing.

Simon Fuller has been a freelance writer since 2008. His work has appeared in "Record Collector," "OPEN" and the online publication, brand-e. Fuller has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Reading and a postgraduate diploma from the London School of Journalism.