perception, in psychology, mental organization and interpretation of sensory information. The Gestalt psychologists studied extensively the ways in which people organize and select from the vast array of stimuli that are presented to them, concentrating particularly on visual stimuli. Perception is influenced by a variety of factors, including the intensity and physical dimensions of the stimulus; such activities of the sense organs as effects of preceding stimulation; the subject's past experience; attention factors such as readiness to respond to a stimulus; and motivation and emotional state of the subject. Stimulus elements in visual organization form perceived patterns according to their nearness to each other, their similarity, the tendency for the subject to perceive complete figures, and the ability of the subject to distinguish important figures from background. Perceptual constancy is the tendency of a subject to interpret one object in the same manner, regardless of such variations as distance, angle of sight, or brightness. Through selective attention, the subject focuses on a limited number of stimuli, and ignores those that are considered less important. Depth perception, considered to be innate in most animals, is produced by a variety of visual cues indicating perspective, and by a slight disparity in the images of an object on the two retinas. An absolute threshold is the minimal physical intensity of a stimulus that a subject can normally perceive, whereas a difference threshold is the minimal amount of change in a stimulus that can be consciously detected by the subject. Recent studies have shown that stimuli are actually perceived in the brain, while sensory organs merely gather the signals. William Dobelle's research, for instance, has offered significant hope for the blind.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Perception: Selected full-text books and articles

Perception By Howard Robinson Routledge, 1994
Perception and Reason By Bill Brewer Clarendon Press, 1999
Perception as a Capacity for Knowledge By John McDowell Marquette University Press, 2011
Perceiving the World By Bence Nanay Oxford University Press, 2010
Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion By William Fish Oxford University Press, 2009
CULTURE, LANGUAGE AND BEHAVIOR: Perception By Russell, Charles G ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 57, No. 1, Spring 2000
Perception & Reality: A History from Descartes to Kant By John W. Yolton Cornell University Press, 1996
Aristotle on Perception By Stephen Everson Clarendon Press, 1997
Aristotle on the Intelligibility of Perception By Rabinoff, Eve The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 68, No. 4, June 2015
Readings in Perception By David C. Beardslee; Michael Wertheimer D. Van Nostrand, 1958
Perception and Representation: Current Issues By Ilona Roth; Vicki Bruce Open University Press, 1995 (2nd edition)
Perceiving Events and Objects By Gunnar Johansson; Gunnar Jansson; Sten Sture Bergström; William Epstein Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994
Cognitive Approaches to Human Perception By Soledad Ballesteros Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994
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