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Sensation and Perception in Psychology of Intrapersonal Communication

In intrapersonal communication, the stages of sensation and perception affect communication within the self. Sensation deals with the five senses while perception translates stimuli from sensations. Through this article, it is expected to be able to understand intrapersonal communication "sensations and perceptions"

When Kusni Kadut was sentenced to death, a group of people in t-shirts appeared in Jakarta with the words “Abolish the death penalty.” They called the death penalty an act of revenge that undermines human values, robs people of the most basic rights, and eliminates the possibility of repenting. The sensation process has already begun. Various reactions arise. A lawyer supported this movement on the grounds: that the death penalty is legalized murder and according to modern philosophy of law, punishment is not for revenge, but for educating and repairing corrupted human beings. An Islamic leader opposed it, the death penalty, he said, was justified by Islam for the crime of taking the life of another - if the victim's family did not forgive him. The threat of harsh punishment is nothing but the maintenance of human order. Another Catholic clergyman comments that the church is against the death penalty. "Not by human dignity and the spirit of the gospel", but what do pedicab drivers say? "That's none of my business - more important to my stomach." (Tempo, February 16, 1980). 

Sensation and Perception in Psychology of Intrapersonal Communication
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The events above reveal how stimuli – in this case. Communication message “Abolish the death penalty”!! has given rise to various responses. Even though the event is the same, people will respond to it differently, according to their circumstances. Psychologically we can say that each person perceives stimuli according to his personal characteristics. In communication we say, messages are given different meanings by different people. Word don't mean, people mean.


The earliest stage in receiving information is sensation. Sensation comes from the word "sense" which means a sense tool, which connects organisms with their environment. According to Dennis Coon, “A sensation is an immediate elementary experience, which requires no verbal breakdown. Symbolic, or conceptual, and especially related to the activities of the senses." Writes Benjamin B. Wolman (1973: 343).

Perhaps the philosopher John Locke's assumption is correct that "there is nothing in the mind except what was first in the senses". And it is also true of another philosopher, Berkeley, that if we had no sense organs, the world would not exist. You don't know that freshly sprayed hair smells good if you don't have a sense of smell. The soft touch of your interior is not realized if you do not have a sense of touch.

We know the five sense organs or five senses. Psychology mentions nine (some even call it eleven) sense organs: sight, hearing, kinesthetic, vestibular, touch, temperature, pain, taste, and smell. We can classify them into three kinds of sensory receptors according to the information. The source of information itself comes from the outside world (external) or from within the individual himself (internal) information from outside is sensed by exteroceptors (eg ears or eyes). Information from within is sensed by receptors (eg the circulatory system). In addition, our own body movements are sensed by proprioceptors (eg vetibular organs).

Sensation Process

Sensation is the process of receiving stimuli by the senses that have not been given meaning. The sensation process is S-O-RS = Stimulus-Organism-Response, while the process is:
Physical process: the stimulus on the sensory organs or receptors is referred to as a natural process.
Physiological processes: stimuli that hit the sense organs are transmitted by sensory nerves to the brain.
Psychological processes: processes in the brain that cause organisms to be able to realize what is received with their senses. This is the final process of sensation and is the actual observation or sensation. Factors that affect Sensation.


Perception is the experience of objects, events, or relationships obtained by inferring information and interpreting messages. Perception is giving meaning to sensory stimuli (sensory stimuli). Sensation is part of perception. Even so, interpreting the meaning of sensory information involves not only sensation, but also attention, motivation, expectation, and memory (Desiderato, 1976: 129).

Perception as well as sensation is determined by functional factors and structural factors. Before discussing that, let's start with another factor that greatly influences perception, namely attention.


Attention is a mental process in which a stimulus or series of stimuli becomes prominent in consciousness when other stimuli are weakened. Thus the definition given by Kenneth A. Anderson attention occurs when we concentrate on one of our sense organs, and ignore input through other sense organs.

The following are external factors attracting attention.

1. Movement

Like other organisms, humans are visually attracted to moving motorcycle taxis. We love to see the letters in the display move to display the name of the advertised item. In a place filled with inanimate objects, we will be attracted to a moving mouse.

2. Stimulus intensity

We will pay attention to stimuli that stand out more than other stimuli. For example Red color on a white background, a tall tube in the middle of a short person.

3. Novelty

Things that are new, extraordinary, different, will attract attention. For example, it is for this reason that people are after new novels, newly released films, and vehicles that have the latest designs.

4. Loop

Things that are presented many times if accompanied by a little variation will attract attention. Here the element of "familiarity" (which we already know) is combined with the element of novelty (which we are just getting to know). Repetition also contains an element of suggestion: it affects our subconscious.

Influential Internal Factors

1. Biological factors

In a hungry state, the whole mind is dominated by food. Therefore, for hungry people what attracts their attention is food. Those who are full will pay attention to other things.

2. Socio-psychological Factors

Sociogenic motives, attitudes, habits, and desires influence what we pay attention to. On the way up the mountain, geologists will pay attention to rocks, botanists, flowers, zoologists, and animals. ,

Functional factors influencing perception

Functional factors come from needs, past experiences, and other things that include what we call personal factors. What determines perception is not the type or form of stimuli, but the characteristics of the person who responds to the stimuli.

Krech and Crutchfield formulated the first proposition of perception: Perception is functionally selective. This postulate means that the objects that are stressed in our perception are usually objects that fulfill the goals of the individual doing the perception. They give examples of the influence of needs, mental readiness, emotional mood, and cultural background on perception. When hungry and thirsty people sit in a food stall, the first will see rice, vegetables, and meat, then the second will see orange juice or tea. This is an example of a biological need that causes different perceptions.

The influence of culture on perception is already a separate discipline in intercultural psychology and cross-cultural communication.

Frame of Reference

Functional factors that influence perception are often referred to as frames of reference. Initially, this concept came from psychophysical research related to the perception of objects.

In communication activities, the frame of reference influences how people give meaning to the messages they receive. Communication students will not understand if given medical terms because they have never studied medicine and vice versa.

According to Rakhmat (1994): Krech and Crutchfield (1975) (in Sobur: 460) the factors that influence perception can be categorized into:

1. Functional factors

Functional factors result from the needs, joy (mood), service, and past experiences of an individual.

2. Structural factors

Structural factors mean that these factors arise or result from the form of stimuli and neutral effects arising from the individual's nervous system.

3. Situational factors

This factor has a lot to do with nonverbal language. Proxemic cues, kinesic cues, facial cues, and paralinguistic cues are some of the situational factors that influence perception.

Personal factors

Other psychological factors that are also important in perception are, respectively: emotion, impression, and context.

• Emotion

will affect a person in receiving and processing information at a time, because some of his energy and attention (becoming a figure) is his emotion. A person who is depressed because he just had a fight with his girlfriend and is stuck in traffic may perceive his friend's jokes as insulting.

• Impressions

the stimulus that is salient/prominent, will first affect a person's perception. Large images, contrasting colors, or strong sounds with a certain pitch, will attract a person's attention and become the focus of his perception. Someone who introduces himself politely and looks attractive will be more easily perceived positively, and this perception will affect how he is viewed next.

• Context

Although this factor is mentioned last, it is by no means the least important, in fact perhaps the most important. Context can be the social, cultural, or physical environment. Context provides the ground that largely determines how the figure is viewed. Focusing on the same figure, but on a different ground, may have a different meaning.

DRS. Rakhmat, Jalaluddin, Psikologi Komunikasi, Bandung, PT Remaja Rosdakarya, 2008