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Sensation and Perception


It is difficult to separate sensation and perception. Think of sensation as the physical experiences of stimuli and perception as the psychological interpretation of that stimuli. See why it would be difficult to separate theses two?
 
These used to be my least favorite chapters in psychology until I began to understand their applications. And there are some fascinating uses for the information in these chapters.

Why did John F. Kennedy, Jr. crash his plane? The NTSB report indicates that it was pilot error - really a perceptual error caused by faulty sensation. His eyes played tricks on him, causing a depth perception error. Unfortunately it was not the first time such a perceptual problem caused a crash.

Such errors are also responsible for automobile crashes and other accidents. Have you ever misjudged the depth of a step? Hopefully you did not fall flat on your face!

Do you like those Magic Eye things? Can you do them? If not, it is not because of your intelligence level. It is an S&P (our abbreviation for sensation and perception) issue. S&P is the area of psychology where we find out earliest labs. Psychophysics was the focus of our earliest labs in the 1800s in Germany. Weber and Wundt were among the earliest psychologists who really were also physicists.

Have you ever wondered why you see a blouse or short as one color inside your house and another shade in the outside light? This is the chapter where you will learn why. You'll see why older adults have a difficult time hearing in a crowded room and why toddlers don't like certain tastes.

For the art aficionado, these are your chapters. Try out the little activities in the chapter and you will come away with a better appreciation for the senses and the perceptual system.