Perception: when the senses deceive

Perception: when the senses deceive

Psychology of perception


  • 1 Psychology of perception
  • 2 Features to consider
  • 3 Examples

Psychology of perception

There is no closed psychological definition of perception. In fact, there are several definitions that have evolved over time towards the involvement of experiences and internal processes of the individual.

While Gibson's environmental approach argues that perception is a simple process (the information is in the stimulus, without the need to analyze subsequent mental processing); according to Neisser's classical psychology, perception is a complex active-constructive process in which the receiving individual, before processing the information, build an anticipatory scheme, which allows you to contrast the stimulus and accept or reject it.

For its part, modern psychology believes that interaction with the environment would not be possible in the absence of a constant information flow, It stimulates perception. In any case, if we want to work under an open and constantly evolving definition, such as our own perception, it could be defined as a set of processes and activities related to the sensation stimulation, through which we obtain information.

Rorschach test

Features to consider

Many studies have concluded that several factors of a subjective nature condition our perception and that, in many cases, it is not objectively reliable. A good example of this is that the reactions to the same stimulus vary considerably from one individual to another. In some psychological tests, the same abstract figure evokes a cheese for some, a kite for others, a cake or even a pie chart depending on who looks at the figure in question. A good example of this type of tests is the famous Hermann Rorschach test. In fact, in the case of Rorschach, the perception of the individual undergoing the test may be an indication of their psychological state.

Another feature to consider is the selective condition of perception or, simplifying, selective perception. Broadly speaking, it is a consequence of the subjective nature of the person who cannot perceive all the stimuli that arrive at the same time and reduce your perceptual field depending on what you want to perceive. Currently, due to various factors, many people experience a selective perception that produces cognitive distortions that normally occur when our desires, our desire for something to happen in a certain way, affect the way in which our perception operates.

It should also take into account the temporality of the stimuli and the process of perception, because they force us to choose. However, depending on the individual, the requirements when choosing stimuli vary considerably. In fact, this temporality evolves as the experiences of the individual are enriched, or when the needs and motivations of observation are modified. When we analyze the response of an experienced person, of adulthood, for example, we can recognize different perception processes, characterized by a way to manage stimuli much more measured. In addition, the immediacy and brevity of some stimuli do not require so much attention to someone accustomed to managing them.

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A good example of this misleading perception is the analysis that has been made of the perception in the case of some strategic games, like poker. According to Matthias Brandner, when we play poker we observe two categories of perception: we perceive ourselves and the other players, and we perceive the game. This can lead to two problems: when we perceive our opponents and ourselves in an incorrect way or when we do the same with the game or its outcome.

The human being tends to overestimate or underestimate your abilities and those of your opponents, in the same way that it perceives qualities in the game apart from an objective reality (for example: “I always lose with a pair of aces”). This is when the selective perception of which we have spoken previously comes into play.

There is no doubt about the suggestion that human beings exert on their perception and, from this suggestion, all kinds of consequences arise. These include superstition or bad luck, for example, which are nothing more than subjective modifications on how we interpret reality.

Interestingly, one of the most common mistakes of our perception is that, in many cases, we are unable to criticize our own mistakes and acknowledge our failures. Selective perception makes its own and does not allow us to judge ourselves objectively.