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Introduction to Psychology

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Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Lesson 17
"Perception is not determined simply by stimulus patterns; rather it is a dynamic searching for the best
interpretation of the available data."
Gregory (1966)
The process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting stimuli; it includes identification,
recognition, and images of the stimulus in question; previous experiences have a role to play in it.
Perception is holistic. Perception is the 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 e.g. 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.
If you look at the following figures you may see two overlapping triangles, a cat, and a hut. Why don't we
see them as different separate triangles, ovals, and rectangles???
Different Connotations of the Word `Perception
oProcess, act, or faculty of perceiving.
oEffect or product of perceiving.
oRepresents what is being perceived.
oAwareness of something with the help of sense organs/ sensations.
oFeelings, attitudes, opinions, and images people possess about different places, people, and environment
of various kinds.
or intuitive cognition or comprehension__ capacity to "analyze"/ "see" with the help of
oThe ability to process or use information coming/ received from the senses
oProcess of classifying sensations.
A Comprehensive Definition of Perception would be that of a cognitive process involving:
· Acquisition,
· Interpretation,
· Selection, and
· Organization of sensory information,
that involves past experiences as well as neurological processes that affect recognition and interpretation.
Gestalt Psychology
The Gestaltists made an important and lasting contribution to our understanding of perceptual processes.
They did show that certain, explicit, factors do affect the way in which incoming stimuli are organized into
·  It developed as a reaction to structuralism in the early 1900s.
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
In contrast to the structuralist approach of breaking down conscious experience into elements, or
focusing upon the structure of mind, the Gestalt school emphasized the significance of studying
any phenomenon in its overall form.
Gestalt means "Configuration".
Gestalt psychology emphasized that the "WHOLE" is more than the sum of its parts, and it is
different from it too.
Concentrated on how people consider individual elements together as units or wholes.
The concept of Gestalt applies to everything, objects, ideas, thinking processes and human
Any phenomenon in its entirety may be much greater than when seen in a disintegrated form.
Max Wertheimer
·  The founder of Gestalt psychology; Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler followed Wertheimer.
·  Wertheimer became aware of a form of apparent motion that was called "phi phenomenon".
Phi phenomenon = when two lights are in close proximity to each other, flashing alternately, appear to be
one light moving back and forth; therefore the whole was different from the separate parts.
·  Movement is perceived whereas it never occurred.
·  Explanation of phi phenomenon led to a separate school of thought that had deep rooted impact
on learning, ethics, and social psychology.
·  We perceive experiences in a way that calls for the simplest explanation, even though reality may be
entirely different. We tend to organize our experience so that it is as simple as possible. = Gestalt
Law of Minimum Principle.
·  Gestalt Psychology maintained that the main task of psychology is to explain attitudes, events,
behaviors etc as `complete' or `whole'__ not in terms of elements or disintegrated parts; the overall
impact is what makes perception.
Figure and Ground
How do we perceive a figure against a background?
Certain processes are involved in distinguishing a certain figure or
object from a ground.
We do not just passively receive what is reflected on to our retinas;
we try to give a meaning to what we see, and therefore `understand'
our sensations
Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization
Organizing raw sensory stimuli into meaningful experiences involve "cognition", a set of mental
activities that includes thinking, knowing, and remembering. Knowledge and experiences are
extremely important for perception, because they help us make sense of the input to our sensory
·  We organize our experiences according to certain rules, in a simple way:
I. The Law of Closure.
II. The Law of Proximity.
III. The Law of Continuity.
IV. The Law of Similarity.
V. The Law of Simplicity.
VI. The Law of Common Fate.
VII. The Law of Enclosure/ Connectivity.
I. Law of Closure
The perceptual tendency to fill in the gaps and complete the contours; perceiving the disconnected parts as
the whole object. We mentally close the gaps and perceive the figure given below as wholes.
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
This tendency enables us to perceive whole objects from incomplete and imperfect forms
II. Law of Proximity
We have the perceptual tendency to group together the auditory and visual events that are close or near one
another; they are perceived as a coherent object. In the figures below, we see that on the left, there appears
to be three horizontal rows, versus three columns on the right.
III. Law  of  Continuity/
Good Continuation
We tend to group the stimuli
into smooth and continuous
patterns or parts. Humans have a capability to continue contours whenever the elements of the pattern
establish an implied direction.
In the drawing below, we see a curved line with a straight line
running through it. In the other, we do not see the drawing as
consisting of the two segments and perceive it as a continuous
IV. Law of Similarity
The tendency to perceive objects, patterns or
stimuli which are similar in appearance as a
group; parts of the visual field that are similar in
color, light, texture, shape, or any other quality
are seen as one.
Elements that appear similar will be perceived as part of the same form/
sequence; there seems to be a triangle in the circles and the smaller triangles
are perceived as one group.
V. Law  of  Simplicity/  Law  of
People intuitively prefer the simplest,
most stable, straightforward, and basic
form of possible organizations. A stimulus
is organized into as good and simple a form as possible; `good' refers to
symmetrical, simple, and regular.
In the following figure you tend to see
four squares rather than ends of logs of
wood or biscuit packs.
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
In this one you tend to see two separate shapes rather than different separate parts joined together.
In the figure on the right you see a diamond inside black lines and not as an `M' under a `W', which actually
is the case.
VI. Law of Common Fate
It is the tendency to group together the objects that move together, or seem to move together, and in the
same direction. When they are being seen in actual motion, humans' will mentally group them as moving in
the same direction. Because of this we often see flocks of birds or herds of cattle, or boys or girls playing
together as one group
VII. Law of Enclosure/ Connectivity
It is our perceptual tendency to perceive features/ patterns, such as dots
or objects as a single unit when uniform and linke; lines, dots, areas,
objects etc are perceived as single or same unit when combined or linked.
Feature Analysis
·  The process of perceiving a shape, pattern, object, or scene by attending to the individual elements
making it up.
·  The Gestaltist emphasis was upon the way we interpret the individual elements as a pattern/
sequence which has some sort of meaning; The organized or well formed sequence gives a different
percept or meaning as compared to when separate parts or elements are observed.
·  The approach of feature analysis looks into the individual components in order to understand the
entire nature of what we perceive.
·  The feature analysis starts with the activation of the neurons in the brain, as they are sensitive to
particular spatial configurations such as circles, angles, edges, curves etc. Since these neurons are
individually present, it is taken to be the evidence of the idea that any pattern, sequence or
component can be broken down into simpler events or parts e.g. the letter "P" is the combination
of a vertical line, and a semi- circle; or an "X" is a combination of a "v' on an inverted "V".
·  150 million objects can be produced out of just 36 fundamental components.
In summary
·  Stimuli are first broken down into their component parts; these parts are then compared to data
stored in our memory in order to find a match; the stimulus is identified and recognized once a
match is found.
·  The feature analysis starts with the activation of the neurons in the brain, as they are sensitive to
particular spatial configurations such as circles, angles, edges, curves etc. Since these neurons are
individually present, it is taken to be the evidence of the idea that any pattern, sequence or
component can be broken down into simpler events or parts e.g. the letter "P" is the combination
of a vertical line, and a semi- circle; or an "X" is a combination of a "v' on an inverted "V".
·  150 million objects can be produced out of just 36 fundamental components.
·  The figure below shows the process of how we perceive a `B' as a `B'.
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Steps in Feature Analysis
a.  Identify the feature, shape of any object, of which the image falls on the retina.
b. Combine/ gather object in some form/pattern so that some sort of
representation can be formed.
c.  In the final stage, we identify/ compare each component/element/ object with
the help of past experiences or memories.
Top- Down and Bottom- Up Processing
`Top- Down' processing refers to the perceptual phenomenon guided/ and influenced by;
oMotivation and
A-e- yo- g-o - ng t- sc--l?
Top- down processing is guided by the higher mental/ knowledge faculty such as meaning of the sentence
of which the important letters are missing__ individuals are able to understand the meaning of the sentence
and fill in the gaps by using their prior experiences and memories.
Bottom- Up processing refers to the
Process of recognizing and processing of information about the individual component/ part of the
Humans will be unable to identify the object component unless they are able to recognize and
understand the shape and features of each element that makes it up; in the sentence "A-e- yo- g-o - ng
t- sc--l?" you will not be able to identify the sentence unless you recognize the individual shapes
making up the overall form of the letters.
Top- down and bottom- up processing occur simultaneously and have an interaction with each other,
which makes it possible to understand the complex perceptual phenomena.
The process of perception involves the environmental stimuli, which is interpreted, analyzed and
integrated with the help of past experiences.
Table of Contents:
  1. WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY?:Theoretical perspectives of psychology
  3. SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT:Biological Approach, Psychodynamic Approach
  4. PERSPECTIVE/MODEL/APPROACH:Narcosis, Chemotherapy
  5. THE PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH/ MODEL:Psychic Determinism, Preconscious
  6. BEHAVIORAL APPROACH:Behaviorist Analysis, Basic Terminology, Basic Terminology
  8. RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY (I):Scientific Nature of Psychology
  9. RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY (II):Experimental Research
  11. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT:Socio- Cultural Factor, The Individual and the Group
  12. NERVOUS SYSTEM (1):Biological Bases of Behavior, Terminal Buttons
  13. NERVOUS SYSTEM (2):Membranes of the Brain, Association Areas, Spinal Cord
  14. ENDOCRINE SYSTEM:Pineal Gland, Pituitary Gland, Dwarfism
  15. SENSATION:The Human Eye, Cornea, Sclera, Pupil, Iris, Lens
  16. HEARING (AUDITION) AND BALANCE:The Outer Ear, Auditory Canal
  17. PERCEPTION I:Max Wertheimer, Figure and Ground, Law of Closure
  18. PERCEPTION II:Depth Perception, Relative Height, Linear Perspective
  19. ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS:Electroencephalogram, Hypnosis
  20. LEARNING:Motor Learning, Problem Solving, Basic Terminology, Conditioning
  21. OPERANT CONDITIONING:Negative Rein forcer, Punishment, No reinforcement
  22. COGNITIVE APPROACH:Approach to Learning, Observational Learning
  23. MEMORY I:Functions of Memory, Encoding and Recoding, Retrieval
  24. MEMORY II:Long-Term Memory, Declarative Memory, Procedural Memory
  25. MEMORY III:Memory Disorders/Dysfunctions, Amnesia, Dementia
  26. SECONDARY/ LEARNT/ PSYCHOLOGICAL MOTIVES:Curiosity, Need for affiliation
  27. EMOTIONS I:Defining Emotions, Behavioral component, Cognitive component
  28. EMOTIONS II:Respiratory Changes, Pupillometrics, Glandular Responses
  29. COGNITION AND THINKING:Cognitive Psychology, Mental Images, Concepts
  31. PERSONALITY I:Definition of Personality, Theories of Personality
  32. PERSONALITY II:Surface traits, Source Traits, For learning theorists, Albert Bandura
  33. PERSONALITY III:Assessment of Personality, Interview, Behavioral Assessment
  34. INTELLIGENCE:The History of Measurement of Intelligence, Later Revisions
  35. PSYCHOPATHOLOGY:Plato, Aristotle, Asclepiades, In The Middle Ages
  36. ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR I:Medical Perspective, Psychodynamic Perspective
  37. ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR II:Hypochondriasis, Conversion Disorders, Causes include
  38. PSYCHOTHERAPY I:Psychotherapeutic Orientations, Clinical Psychologists
  39. PSYCHOTHERAPY II:Behavior Modification, Shaping, Humanistic Therapies
  40. POPULAR AREAS OF PSYCHOLOGY:ABC MODEL, Factors affecting attitude change
  41. HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY:Understanding Health, Observational Learning
  42. INDUSTRIAL/ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY:‘Hard’ Criteria and ‘Soft’ Criteria
  43. CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY:Focus of Interest, Consumer Psychologist
  44. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Some Research Findings, Arousal level
  45. FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY:Origin and History of Forensic Psychology