The 8 types of human perception (and how they work)

Perception is a very important vital process for our survival and adaptation to the environment in which we live, since it allows us to perceive different types of information about the environment and to process them in our brain giving a series of adaptive responses based on each situation.

There are different types of perfection according to psychology: auditory, visual, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, social, spatial, pain perception, among others. On the other hand, for a perceptual process to occur, there must be 3 components: a stimulus to be perceived, the development of a perceptual process and a perceptual experience.

In this article we will see what are the different types of human perceptionand its functions and characteristics.

    What is perception?

    Perception is how our brain interprets the sensations we perceive through our senses to form an impression of the physical environment around us, which may be conscious or unconscious. Therefore, this process allows us to organize, interpret and also identify all this perceived sensory information in order to understand data about the environment around us.

    The process through which the different types of perception go develops through a series of phases, which we will see below.

    1. Transduction

    This first phase concerns a process of transformation of this energy which comes from the environmentconverting it into electrical energy through sensitive receivers.

    2. Neural Processing

    Once the energy of the environment has been transformed into electrical energy by these sensitive receptors, this energy is already it can continue its course through the nervous system, so sensory receptors will send this signal to neurons in the brain. Therefore, neural processing seeks to propagate the electrical signal through certain very complex pathways, which would be this set of operations that allow this communication.

      3. Perception

      This step it generates the conscious experience formed through all that information that reaches the brain through the sensory organsso that neural processing reaches the areas of the brain meant to perform such functions, being there when it turns into perceptual experience.

      4. Recognition

      This perceptual experience is compared, thanks to the memory of the brain, to certain categories already existing in the system., so that the recognition can develop thanks to the establishment of a relation between the new information perceived with categories already acquired in the knowledge previously. Thus, the new perceived stimuli manage to acquire meaning.


      Here are a number of motor adjustments in order to complete the new information received. These adjustments are different actions, such as making a movement of the head in order to be able to adjust the gaze to a certain point or in a certain direction so that the person can move.

      6. Knowledge

      Knowledge previously acquired and stored in memory can decisively influence perceptionbecause it allows people to have knowledge about various stimuli of the environment around them, so when they perceive it, if it is known, they realize it immediately.

        7. Processing

        There are two types of treatment. On the one hand, there is bottom-up processing, which consists of following the path from the presentation of a stimulus to its processing at the central level. On the other hand, there is top-down processing, which occurs when a person begins analysis with the central elements (eg, memory or learning) that influence perception and therefore transform experience.

          The different types of human perception

          Now that we have briefly seen what perception and the perceptual process consist of, we will proceed to explain the different types of perception.

          As mentioned above, there are different types of perception (eg visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, social, etc.), each of these types being quite complex, as they involve different parts of the human body, being extremely important the participation of the brain and the spirit, because it is not enough to perceive the tangible or material aspect of reality, but it is also necessary to internalize it in order to be able to understand it, giving meaning to all this information captured by the senses.

          We will see below a brief explanation of the different types of perception that the field of psychology takes into account.

          1. Visual perception

          The first type of perception we are going to talk about is visual perception, which it allows us to form all this reality that we can contemplate the sensory organs that form the sense of sight. This perception involves the colors, movements of certain perceived stimuli, shapes, sizes, etc., which allow the perceived visual information to be interpreted in more detail.

            2. Auditory perception

            The second type of perception that should be mentioned is auditory perception, developed by the ear or the auditory system that allows us to hear certain sounds or noises when they are picked up and interpreted in our brain. changes in vibrations that develop in the environment. It is one of the most important types of perception when trying to recognize the presence of certain elements that may be around us.

            3. Olfactory perception

            Another type of perception is that which develops through smell, olfactory perception. It allows us to perceive the smells and aromas that surround us, or even a stench (very unpleasant smell).

            In the field of psychology, various researches have been developed which have shown that odor-laden experiences are more easily remembered when we perceive a similar odor later, since olfactory perception allows us to obtain certain information about the environment. related to certain aromas. and certain memories, both positive and negative.

              4. Tactile perception

              Tactile perception is another major type of perception, and it is the one that allows us to perceive through the skin, and mainly through the hands, involved in the process the contact of the skin with a surface. It should be noted that this is a kind of perception that can trigger rejection or an unpleasant sensation, depending on the experience perceived by the touch.

              5. Perception of taste

              Taste perception is also one of the types of perception; the taste buds allow us to develop this sensory process when we introduce food into the mouth, so that we perceive its taste and we can experience different sensations that could be pleasant or unpleasant depending on how we perceive through the taste buds those we are tasting. When we perceive a taste that is disagreeable to us, we will reject this food in the future occasions that are presented to us, because it will cause in us repulsion.

              6. Spatial perception

              Another type of perception would be spatial, considered by many experts to be a subtype of visual perception; however, it differs from it, being the ability of people to grasp objects and shapes in the environment in its three dimensions. This perception is also a capacity that allows us to calculate the depth, distance and height of the stimuli we perceive.

              7. Social perception

              We can also find social perception among different types of perception, also known as social cognition, and is related to how they tend to visualize the people around themforming impressions and inferences about other people, allowing them to associate, remember and categorize people from their environment.

              8. Perception of pain

              The perception of pain would be another type of perception and refers to one that has several dimensions (quality, affection, duration, intensity and location), which makes it a fairly complex type of perception. The pain perception process is triggered when pain messages emerge from the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and are transmitted to the central nervous system (CNS) where they are interpreted according to various dimensions such as those just mentioned.

              Bibliographic references

              • PIR Preparation Academy (2019). Handbook of psychobiology: 3rd edition. Madrid: APIR.
              • PIR Preparation Academy (2019). Handbook of basic psychology: 3rd edition. Madrid: APIR.
              • Benesch, H. (2009). Atlas of Psychology I. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.
              • From April, A. et al. (2009). Fundamentals of psychobiology. Madrid: Sanz and Torres.
              • Francoise, RD (2008). Akal Psychology Dictionary. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.
              • OnlineOviedo, G. (2004). The definition of the concept of perception in psychology based on Gestalt theory. Journal of social studies, 18.
              • Roberts, A. (2020). The great book of the human body. Madrid: Editorial DK Spain.
              • Roselló, J., Sánchez Cabaco, A. & Mular and Roca, E. (1999). Attention and perception. Madrid: Editorial of Alianza.

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