Perception of Reality and Value Belief Norm Theory


Addressing the question of what is right and wrong is challenging since people have different perceptions of reality. When people see or hear things though the message is always the same, the interpretation varies from one person to another due to their difference in views. In decision-making, the reality is often overridden by perception, making it an important topic in almost all disciplines. Because most of the work done today involves dealing with clients and fellow workers, how these individuals perceive someone or something is more important than how they are. Biological and social factors contribute to variation in the perception of realism, however, models such as planned behavior, value belief norm, and empathy provide proper insight into causes of inaccurate perception among individuals.

Causes of Inaccurate Perceptions

Human perception is influenced by several factors in the surrounding making people have a completely different point of view concerning the nature of reality they are facing. In other words, perception experience tends to differ from one person to another based on the social construct. The variation makes individuals develop incorrect awareness of reality hence challenging to relate one’s understanding of the situation they are facing. Several factors including biological, cognitive, social, and developmental aspects contribute to individuals’ inaccurate perception of reality. Common cognitive factors that contribute to people’s wrong perception of reality are empathy, attitude, prejudices, worldviews, confirmation biases, and social influences. On the other hand, biological factors such as wrong visual perception, attention dynamics, feelings, and neural conditions also contribute to variable degrees of these perceptions. Social factors that may lead to inaccurate conclusions by people are confirmation bias, wrong integration of data, observation biases caused by others, and social attributions. Developmental factors such as age, mood, gender, education levels, neurological factors, and health also contribute to these wrong insights.

Planned Behaviour

The underlying behavior of people is an essential aspect that influences their point of view concerning different matters and situations they are facing. The attitude of the person, the subjective norm, their perceived behavioral control, and their intentions are the variables that contribute to how the individual will behave. According to the Theory of Planned Behavior, the attitude an individual holds toward a certain fact will be influenced if the person accepts the fact or not (Boudet, 2019). When judging actions performed by another individual, the perception towards the person often overrides the true actions done by the other party. The person’s perceived ability, such as skill and money, also determines whether they will accept certain realities.

Before deciding their viewpoint on any topic, individuals will consider their ability to do it, their intentions, and their rationale for decision-making (Boudet, 2019). TPB has been successfully used to explain and predict behavior in many behavioral domains, from physical activity to drug use to choice of travel to houses bought and technologies used (Ajzen, 2020). Thus, using this theory, it is clear that an individual’s perception is likely to be skewed because their self-interest influences it. When making decisions, people should always be aware that what they think, see, feel, or taste may not always be as it is but rather a creation of their own due to their physical abilities, energy, social identity, and personal interpretation.


When solving human problems, many people rely on empathy for their decision-making. This ability to feel how others feel may make people make irrational and disproportionate decisions, especially where a large group of people is involved (Capdevila, Dixon, and Briggs, 2015). For example, when a particular individual needs medication, people will be more willing to help than when there are no drugs in the hospitals, leading to higher mortality. Studies from laboratories have proved that empathy leads to biased and innumerate decisions because it leads to choices that clash with our moral judgments, and it can spur cruel and irrational decisions. Empathy for others makes people have an inaccurate perception of reality as it makes people reason illogically.

Value Belief Norm Theory

The value-belief-norm-theory (V.B.N.) has it that their beliefs about reality influence the induvial perception of reality. The framework of this theory holds that people’s perceptions are a factor in their values, beliefs, and norms (Kiatkawsin and Han, 2017). When people see, hear, smell, or think, they do so to influence what they believe, value, and view to be normal or not. When a person sees another dressed in a way they don’t believe to be decent, they are likely to view them as not trustworthy, while the reality could be the opposite. When an advertisement is presented by a celebrity someone values, it is more likely to be accepted in comparison to a presentation by a stranger. Values, self-interests, traditionalisms, and openness to change are some of the factors that influence and skew the perception of the reality of a person. All these incautious behaviors happen without the knowledge of the individual and, most times, affect the decisions made by those individuals.

Diffusion of Innovation Theory

Diffusion of innovation theory (DOI) is a merger of concepts of TPB and V.B.N. theories, and both acceptance levels of reality and values towards that fact influence their perception of it. DOI is an extensive social and psychological theory that aims to predict how people make decisions to adopt innovation by finding their adoption patterns and understanding its structure (Min, So, and Jeong, 2018). The theory proves that the perceptions used by these individuals in making decisions are, most times, wrong. DOI proposes four diffusion recommendations that influence the view of reality; perception of reality, communication channels, time, and the individual’s social system. The level of inaccuracy in perceiving reality depends on the characteristics of the people and those of the perceived action, thing, or event.

Reality Theory

People believe what they perceive to be accurate and create their reality in perception with what they think, believe, and perceive. People’s past experiences greatly influence how they perceive stimuli positively or negatively. For many investigators, the nervous system is taken to construct representations of the physical world. Moreover, there are profound discrepancies between the physical sources of stimuli and what we perceive (Purves, 2021). However, this option is implausible based on what has already been discussed above. Hermann Helmholtz, a German scientist, realized that the perceptual experience he had looking at a piece of paper changed according to the surrounding environment it was placed in, unconscious inferences. Such Inferences helped explain perceptual phenomena such as size constancy- the experience that an object appears the same perceptual size despite being at different distances. Richard Gregory argues that perception is partly directed by developing hypotheses about what is experienced. These hypotheses can be incorrect, highlighted through illusions; thus, it is possible to perceive the world incorrectly.

Other Factors Influencing Perception

Attitude is a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor. Its three main constituent components highly influence it; Cognitive, affective, and behavioral (Capdevila, Dixon, and Briggs, 2014). The cognitive is the relation by which a person’s thoughts and beliefs about a stimulus influence their perception of them and the effect of how the object, person, issue, or events makes a person feel. On the other hand, the behavioral component refers to how a person’s attitude influences their behavior. The resultant outcomes of a serial mediation model of financial knowledge on the intention to invest revealed significant mediating effects of risk perception and attitude in the sequential positive relationship between financial knowledge and financial behavioral intention to invest (Lim et al., 2018). Social Influence also influences the perception of reality as people act like those around them.


When individuals see things, they always think that they perceive or hear them as they are; however, the factors such as norms, beliefs, and empathy make individuals’ views of reality vary significantly hence becoming incorrect. As addressed, biological, cognitive, social, and developmental factors influence a person’s perceptions of reality. Perceptions of reality have been studied using different methods such as surveys and theories that make people view reality wrongly formulated. It is hoped that policymakers can know and take advantage of the rationale of decision-making by understanding these theories. It is also important for people to understand these principles to have a more accurate perception of reality.

Reference List

Ajzen, I. (2020) ‘The theory of planned behavior: Frequently asked questions,’ Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, [online] 2(4).

Boudet, H.S. (2019) ‘Public perceptions of and responses to new energy technologies,’ Nature Energy, 4(6), pp.446–455. Web.

Capdevila, R., Dixon, J. and Briggs, G. (2014) Investigating psychology: An integrative approach.

Capdevila, R., Dixon, J. and Briggs, G. (2015) Investigating psychology 2 (Volumes 1-3). Web.

Kiatkawsin, K. and Han, H. (2017) ‘Young travelers’ intention to behave pro-environmentally: Merging the value-belief-norm theory and the expectancy theory,’ Tourism Management, 59, pp.76–88. Web.

Lim, T. S., Mail, R., Abd Karim, M. R., Ulum, Z. K. A. B., Jaidi, J., & Noordin, R. (2018) ‘A serial mediation model of financial knowledge on the intention to invest: The central role of risk perception and attitude,’ Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, 20, 74-79. Web.

Min, S., So, K.K.F. and Jeong, M. (2018) ‘Consumer adoption of the Uber mobile application: Insights from the diffusion of innovation theory and technology acceptance model,’ Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 36(7), pp.770–783. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Perception of Reality and Value Belief Norm Theory." April 18, 2023.