21 Aug 2011

Relativity & its Impact on Perception...

Which circle is larger? For most, it is the 1st. But both are of the same size. That's the point; relativity impacts our perception.

Perception is defined as the process whereby sensory stimulation translates into organized experience. But perception, in simpler terms, is the after effect of what a person experiences in a given situation. It can vary from person to person. Interpretation and perception are inter – linked; interpretation involves making sense of a stimulus.

So you decide to buy a book. It costs $35 at the store you are currently. You decide to go onto www.flipkart.com or www.amazon.com because you believe you will get a better deal. You see it costs $28 on a website (a saving of $7) and you immediately place the order, feeling pleased about having got the book for a bargain. Now, you have to prepare for your brother's wedding and decide to buy a suit (sorry gals for being such a chauvinist, but I thought it would be better to talk about something I know about). You zero down on a suit which costs $407. But a fellow shopper whispers in your ear that the suit is available for $400 at a store 10 minutes away. Do you take that 10 minute drive to save $7 on this instance? Mostly not! But it is the same $7 we are talking about. The saving in both instances should give you the same euphoria. But perception here, is impacted by relativity. The $7 saving looks much more in a $35 deal vis – a – viś a $400 deal. The relative prices of the commodities have made all the difference in our perceptions.

We humans like to compare everything. Our scores with our classmates, our performance in office with our colleagues, our salaries with those of our close friends, etc. We even like to compare between cars, clothes, computers, mobiles, etc. when we want to buy one or even formulate an opinion. Thus, it is not the features of an object/experience that count, but its features relative to another relevant one. We feel demotivated if our existing jobs pay lesser than those of our colleagues, if our clothes or houses or cars are not as good as theirs, and start perceiving our lives as failures. We start losing self – esteem which hampers our work, our thoughts and our lives overall.

One way to get out of this mess is to genuinely be aware of this trap. And to genuinely attempt to steer clear. This can be done by conscious attempts to move away from people/situations which might make us feel inferior or unhappy. Stave clear of people who are influential or who like to flash their wares, which keep changing very often. When we compare our lives with ourselves; what happened in the past and the circumstances we have faced; we will make better sense of it. Being content will lead us to giving our best at work, home and amongst friends. So let your perception be free of any comparison, or the concept of relativity. Try it, and do let me know if you see a visible difference for the better.


  1. Wow. I never knew how i we perceived things that way! Amazing.

  2. Brilliant interpretation of Perception, good to read this article. I got your message. All over impressed me.

  3. true,, just like...

    "I learned a lesson about Human Behaviour today, 'When a friend fails an exam, I feel bad, but when he tops it, I feel worse.'
    - Three Idiots ...

  4. Perception unbiased by any comparison is a tough call, but worth it. Good thought!


  5. Perception is nothing but Deception in Disguise. Sirji, liked those real life example :)

  6. Your comparison between books suit was beautiful. It is natural for done people that they wouldn't go to another shop some minutes away to save $7 but while purchasing online we check bookstores, even different online websites and feel happy that we got good discount.


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