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Psychology Experiments on Perception by Peter Lafferty The great cookie-cutter experiment One of the basic questions examined by psychology is How do humans perceive things Perception is the process of forming a coherent picture of the world But how does perception work Until the 1960s a rather simplistic view was taken of perception The organs of perception the eyes and ears for example were considered as passive receptors of data from the surroundings It was thought that the act of perception simply consisted of constructing a world-picture from the external data However there were some early indications that this could not be the whole story Stimulus and no response Early experiments on perception maintained a person in as passive a condition as possible so that he or she became a simple receptor The person was then subjected to stimuli of various sorts sounds flashing lights and so on to see how the stimuli were perceived These experiments produced alarming results a person held in a completely passive condition did not perceive the world as made up of things and furthermore after a short time did not perceive anything at all These experiments should have warned psychologists that something was wrong with their theories of perception But psychologists are very conservative and in the middle of the 20th century the experimental study of perception continued along lines established in the 19th century Another very simple experiment demonstrates that perception cannot be regarded as a completely passive process When the head is moved the images produced on the retina of the eye move yet the world is perceived as stationary Presumably when a moving object passes in front of a stationary eye the images on the retina move in much the same way In this case however we perceive that it is the object which is moving In other words the same retinal stimulus can produce different perceptions Mr and Mrs Gibsons work The mechanism of
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