What is the difference between perception and perspective?

Have you ever considered the contrast between perception and perspective? In this article, we look into their definitions. We examine their relationship and explore examples to illustrate their impact on our understanding of reality.

What is perception?

Perception is how our brains make sense of the world around us. It involves using our senses—like sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch—to understand what’s happening. The brain then takes information from the senses and figures out what it means. Understanding the reality around us is like solving a puzzle with pieces made of information from the senses. However, perception is much more than understanding things through our senses.

This process also relies on our memories, cultural values, and life experiences. Perception is often a fast-thinking part of our intellect. So, we are not usually aware of its operation.

Perception is a spontaneous response to the reality out there. Although it is influenced by our thoughts and attitudes the action of our perception process is hidden because of its seamless integration with our senses. In Perception: Theory, Development and Organisation, Paul Rookes and Jane Willson note that “most psychologists would agree that the boundary between sensation and perception is rather fuzzy.”

Perception is closely tied to our feelings. The things we notice through perception are often referred to as Affective Information. This means that not only do emotions influence perception but also perception causes emotion. For example, seeing a snake raises an immediate emotional response.

Our perception is adopted as a survival mechanism to help us avoid danger, and be motivated toward our survival.

To recap, perception helps us navigate reality by processing information from our senses and combining it with our knowledge and experiences. For example, imagine looking at a picture that shows a brown fluffy tail. The eyes see the colors, texture, and shapes, but the brain interprets the image as a dog tail. That’s perception in action. It is how the brain makes sense of what the eyes see.

Perception and Body

Perception is a physical process, so the body and the ability of your senses play a big role in how we perceive things. For example, a person with color blindness will have a different way of perceiving a sunset by the ocean.

For example, research shows that physical body size and characteristics affect how we see the space around us. For example, our weight influences how we perceive the distance between two points.

The connection between and perception is further reflected through ideas such as embodied cognition or embodied perception.

What is perspective?

Perspective is how we view and interpret the world, based on our experiences, beliefs, and attitudes. Merriam-Webster defines it as a mental view or prospect. Thus, perspective is essentially a thinking or mental process. Our perspective depends on where we come from, and what books, magazines, or news we read.

Our perspective influences how we think about situations, people, and events. It colors our understanding of the world and affects how we interact with others and make decisions. Perspective is dependent on viewpoint and naturally our place in life.

For example, imagine if your city is gathering surveys to plan a new green space in your neighborhood. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, elderly couple, or single professional, your opinions on how the park should be designed will differ. Your perspective is closely linked to your circumstances.

Perception vs perspective

While our perceptions and perspectives show what we like about the world, they work differently. Perception functions mostly through spontaneous actions. As a result, most of the time it operates under our radar. Perception connects us to our senses and helps us pick a tasty snack and avoid a rotten sandwich.

Perspective doesn’t have a sensory aspect of perception. It is a thinking process that reflects our point of view toward something. It is an interpretation process that reflects our ideologies, worldviews, cultural backgrounds, and experiences in life.

Perception vs perspective, an example

Let’s illustrate the difference between perception and perspective in an example. Imagine someone is going for a walk after a long day at the office. Halfway through their walk, their phone rings.


  • The person hears their phone ringing.
  • They recognize it as their phone ringing.


  • They’re expecting an important call, they might think it is an urgent message.
  • They’ve had a stressful day at work, they might assume it is the work.

To sum up, perception is about what we sense, like hearing the phone ring. Perspective is about how we think about why it’s ringing, based on our own experiences and thoughts. Both perception and perspective are closely connected in how they work. Our perspective toward or against an idea can change our perception of people and places.

How perspective can influence perception

Perspective can change how we see things by affecting how we understand what we sense. Our viewpoints, beliefs, and experiences shape our perspective. For instance, if we have a positive outlook, we might see challenges as chances to grow. But if we’re negative, we might see them as problems.

Our culture also shapes how we see things like colors and how people act. For example, imagine the white in a ceremonial setting. It could symbolize purity in a wedding dress, represent an offering in a religious ritual, or symbolize mourning and the remembrance of the deceased. So, our perspective acts like glasses, changing how we understand what we see. and

So, our perspective acts like a filter, changing how we understand what we see.

Summary Table

DefinitionHow we view and interpret the world based on experiences, beliefs, and attitudesHow our brains understand the world through senses
SubjectivitySubjective; influenced by individual experiences, beliefs, and values.Subjective; influenced by individual sensory experiences, cognitive processes, and past experiences.
InfluenceShaped by personal experiences, cultural background, education, and worldview.Shaped by sensory input, cognitive processing, past experiences, and context.
AwarenessTypically involves conscious thought and awarenessOften operates without our conscious awareness
FlexibilityCan be flexible and change over time based on new experiences or perspectives.Can be flexible and change over time based on new sensory information or new thinking patterns.
RelativityRelative; different individuals may have different perspectives on the same thing.Relative; different individuals may perceive the same sensory information differently.
InterpretationInvolves interpreting events, situations, or information based on one’s viewpoint or mindset.Involves interpreting sensory input to construct a meaningful understanding of the world.
FunctionalityReflects personal viewpoint and interpretationresponse to external stimuli