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Perception - the interpretation of information.

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Gemma Stirling


Perception is the interpretation of information, which we receive through our senses. We all receive sensory information, like smells, sounds or noises. We can also make sense of them, both consciously and unconsciously. This therefore allows us to fit the new information in with other things that we already know. As part of studying human beings we need to be able to explain both how the similarities have come about and also how the differences happen. The study of perception is one of the most advanced areas of psychology. Many perceptual processes, especially those involving vision and audition, are well understood and provide a vital bridge between neuroscience and behavioral science. But much more must be learned. One major mystery is how we identify the shapes of things, the configuration of contours and edges that populate our visual world with poodles, people, potholes, and Picassos. Another is how we move from identifying the shapes of objects to identifying the objects themselves. A third is how perception is influenced by a person's experiences, motives, expectations, and goals. Psychologists consider that people have come to be who they are

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Once the babies were reacting to that particular cube, Bower tried varying what the babies were shown. He showed them the cube at different angles, at different distances and also differently sized cubes at various distances. The idea was that the babies were born with size consistency, they would still recognise the cube even when it was further away and looked smaller. He could still recognise something when it was shown to them at different angle. Bower found that even very young babies had the basics of size and shape constancy, although it was nowhere near as highly developed as an adult’s. So it seems that there is some aspect to this type of perception but shows that we still need to develop it with our experiences. A different method was tried by Franz 1961. He set up an apparatus which allows him to detect what very young infant’s shapes, two at a time. By measuring how long infants looked at each shape, Franz was able to tell which one they preferred and he deduced from this that they must be able to detect what was on it or they wouldn’t prefer it. He found that babies tended to prefer patterns to plain shapes.

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Some criticisms of the nature nurture debate is that most research involves babies who although young, have had some experience of the world, and therefore it is hard to separate the learned and innate responses evidence of the empiricist position. It is also difficult to interpret animal studies to human studies. Most psychologists use animals when studying different perspectives, so they can get a valid conclusion. But with it being animals they are studying and not humans who are the one who will be of benefit.


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