Perception: Theory, Development, and Organisation

Perception: Theory, Development, and Organisation

Perception: Theory, Development, and Organisation

Perception: Theory, Development, and Organisation

Synopsis

Paul Rookes and Jane Wilson explain perception and perceptual processes in a way that almost anyone can understand. The study of perception, or how the brain processes information from the senses, has fascinated psychologists and philosophers for a long time. Perception takes the key research areas and presents the arguments and findings in a clear, concise form, enabling the reader to have a quick working knowledge of the area.

This clear and informative text discusses sensation and perception then looks at theories and explanations of perception. The way visual perception is structured is examined, followed by an analysis of the development of perceptual processes. The authors then consider individual social and cultural variations in perceptual organisation. Perception will be particularly useful to students new to higher-level study. With it's helpful textbook features to assist in examination and learning techniques, it should interest all introductory psychology students.

Excerpt

Sensation refers to the responses of sensory receptors and sense organs to environmental stimuli. Perception, on the other hand, is a process which involves the recognition and interpretation of stimuli which register on our senses. Someone who is studying sensory processes is likely to ask questions such as 'How is electromagnetic radiation registered by the eye?' Whereas a psychologist interested in perception is more likely to ask 'How can you recognise that object? How far away do you think it is? Where is it in relation to other objects that you see around you?' In other words, perception relates to how we make sense of our environment and sensation refers to the basic stimulation of the sense organs. Imagine that you hear someone play a few notes on the piano-the qualities such as pitch, tone and loudness register as sensations but, if you recognise that the notes form a tune, then you have experienced a perception. Most psychologists would agree that the boundary between sensation and perception is rather fuzzy. It can be difficult to decide just how complex stimuli need to be before they involve perception and how much interpretation is required before sensation becomes perception.

We usually use our senses with such ease that it may be difficult for you to understand that there is anything for psychologists to explain. Imagine that you are in a student common-room during a fairly quiet time. You will be able to recognise friends as they come in. You will be able to smell the coffee in their cups. You will be able to hear and understand the news headlines coming from a television set in the corner of the room. Perception just seems to happen-you do not appear to be expending much effort on it. Consider some situations where your quick perceptions can keep you from harm. They can alert you to a car that comes hurtling round a bend in time for you to jump back out of danger. They can provide you with information that makes you step back from an uncovered manhole in the pavement, so avoiding a fall and serious physical harm. The apparent immediacy of perception, however, belies the complex processes that are happening behind the scenes. There is an old saying 'Seeing is believing', but this is misleading. Look at the drawings in Figure 1.1. In spite of what your senses tell you, A, B and C are all perfect squares. Perception amounts to rather more than meets the eye!

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