Posted tagged ‘consumer confusion’

Perception is reality

September 22, 2008

What is more important – the rigid unchanging reality or its fluid perception?

I call perception ‘fluid’ because each individual’s world view is deeply influenced by her beliefs, opinions, values and its very likely that two individuals may see the same thing in a different light. To take an ancient yet relevant example, the universe was believed to be geo-centric. In other words, earth was believed to be at the center and the sun revolved around it. It was Copernicus (1473-1543 AD) who challenged this idea with a heliocentric theory stating that it was the sun and not the earth at the center. Although Copernicus is widely believed to be the first proponent of this theory some theosophists believe that the idea of heliocentrism can be found in Vedic texts written in ancient India as early as 9th-8th century B.C. Nevertheless, the point is quite clear that the perception (geocentrism) was far removed from reality (heliocentrism). Thankfully, as time passed and with various technological advances, the reality has been proven beyond doubt. In this case, it took centuries for perceptions to converge to reality.

Sometime ago, I read an interesting article on consumer behavior or rather consumer confusion. A quick google search yielded the author to be Professor Joe F. Alexander of the University of Northern Colorado. The author proposed a very interesting experiment to prove that what you see isn’t always what you get. The presentation (packaging, advertising, marketing) of a product can be quite deceptive and may or may not represent the true quality of the product. The act involves holding up a carton of eggs for everyone to see clearly. The carton has 11 fake eggs and only 1 real egg. The presenter picks up the real egg and breaks it into a bowl to prove to her audience beyond doubt that it was a real egg. Having done that, the presenter tosses the remaining eggs up in the air in the middle of the audience. Amidst gasps and giggles, the presenter asks, “What determined your reaction – the perception of the 11 eggs or their reality? What was more powerful – the reality or its perception?”

For the purpose of this discussion, we can divide our world into two convenient albeit simplistic forms – the physical and the non-physical.

Reality in the physical world is relatively easy to perceive and the two converge, sooner or later. Like everyone perceives that diamonds are hard, that carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere traps heat and the world (our planet earth) to be round! The ancients were convinced that you would fall off the edge when you get to the end of the world. But as new knowledge, facts overshadowed old beliefs, later generations scoffed at this belief.

Things are not so straightforward in the other realm – the non-physical world. Everyone agrees that diamonds are the hardest natural mineral known to man, but not everyone may agree on what constitutes a perfect diamond ring. From a variety of diamond rings in a store, each guy who wants to propose to his girlfriend may pick a different ring. Personal tastes, opinions, perceptions are going to influence the choice of the perfect diamond ring. What is the reality here? Or is there any reality at all?!

Lets take the litmus test. What is the reality – is this blog any good? If enough people think it is then the perception will become reality!

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