Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator's objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.
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"Perception" is defined as the "process by which individuals select, organize, and interpret the input from their senses to give meaning and order to the world around them". This definition overlaps with the higher-order perceptual processes as defined biologically (the lower-order biological processes are not susceptible to management; these low-level processes include underlying perceptual categorization performed prior to conscious categorization.). Components of perception include the perceiver, target of perception, and the situation. Factors that influence the perceiver include:
- Schema: organization and interpretation of information based on past experiences and knowledge
- Motivational state: needs, values, and desires of a perceiver at the time of perception
- Mood: emotions of the perceiver at the time of perception
Factors that influence the target include:
- Ambiguity: a lack of clarity. If ambiguity increases, the perceiver may find it harder to form an accurate perception
- Social status: a person's real or perceived position in society or in an organization
- Impression management: an attempt to control the perceptions or impressions of others. Targets are likely to use impression management tactics when interacting with perceivers who have power over them. Several impression management tactics include behavioral matching between the target of perception and the perceiver, self-promotion (presenting one's self in a positive light), conforming to situational norms, appreciating others, or being consistent.