Monthly Archives: March 2010

Perceptions – Aren’t that obvious

The great question of perception is: “Why do things look the way they do?”

At first the question seems almost silly. We are tempted to answer, “Because things are they way they are.” It would seem that tall things look tall because they are tall. And distant things look distant because they are distant. On the other hand, why does the Moon look larger just above the horizon than it does when it’s overhead? It hasn’t gotten any bigger, or any closer. If a series of disconnected dots are arranged in the pattern of, say, the letter F, it looks like the letter, not a bunch of disconnected dots—which, it actually is. visual images on your retina are upside down.

There are two phenomena – Sensation : the raw data of experience and Perception : the organization and the meaning we give to primitive information. It can be said with some degree of confidence that we use sensory information to create a psychological world. Kurt Koffka (1886–1941), one of the founders of Gestalt psychology, said that there is a distinction between the geographical world and the psychological world. The geographical world is the actual world “out there,” the world as defined and described by physics. The psychological world is the world “in here,” the world as experienced by the subject. Although common sense usually says it’s the so-called “real world” or physical world that determines our behavior, it can be argued that common sense isn’t sufficiently analytical. We generally behave in terms of what we perceive to be true, not necessarily in terms of what is actually true. If ice is thin in the physical world, and it is solid in your psychological world, you are likely to skate on it. And, of course, you may make a serious mistake as a result.


Posted by on March 2, 2010 in Psychology, Random, Readings, Thoughts


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