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NIOS Class 12 Psychology Chapter 5 Attention and Perception
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Attention and Perception
Intext Questions & Answers
Q. 1. State whether the following statements are True or False.
1. Attention is a central process. True/False
2. Perception is possible without attention. True/False
3. Attention refers to all those processes by which we perceive selectively. True/False
4. The four functions of attention are:
Ans: 1. Alerting Function.
2. Selective Function.
3. Limited capacity channel.
Q. 2. Shape or form is defined as areas of visual field that are set off from the rest of the field by _____________.
Ans: Visible contour.
3. Perceptual organizations will not be possible without_____________ segregation.
Ans: Figure – ground.
4. Gestalt psychologists identified _____________ which determine our perceptual organizations.
Ans: Laws of organizations.
5. Illusions are_____________ resulting from misinterpretation of sensory information.
6. The moon in the horizon is perceived bigger in size than moon in the zenith, it is called_____________.
Ans. moon illusion on.
7. Distance and depth is perceived with the help of_____________.
8. The three category of cues are:
Ans. 1. Non-visual cues.
2. Binocular cues.
3. Monocular cues.
1. What are the main functions of attention?
Ans. The terms “shape” and “form” are often used interchangeably. The study of shape perception raises many questions, such as: How do we perceive shape? Is our ability to perceive shape and form innate or learned? How do we segregate figure from ground? Are there laws that govern the organization of perception? What are illusions and why do these illusions exist? These are some questions that we shall try to explore in this section.
Shape or form is defined as areas of visual field that are set off from the rest of the field by visible contour. Werner in 1935 demonstrated how contours are perceived and their role in the perception of shape or form. To perceive a shape, its contours must be sharp enough to mark off the region that is called shape. For example, see Figure 5.1 in which the contour has been made to clearly delineate an area that is a circle. If the contour becomes too weak or disappears, the shape also disappears.
Figure and Ground:
Imagine, if figure-ground segregation was not there how confusing the world would have been for us. Perhaps, perceptual organization would not be possible. For example, see figure 5.1 in which the random shape stands out as a figure and page becomes background. Another example, whatever is written on the black-board by your teacher becomes “figure” and the black board becomes a “ground”. You cannot read anything on the blackboard until and unless the figure (words) is segregated from the background (black board). In our visual field (whatever we look out in the environment around us) some area is segregated to form figures and the rest is relegated to the background (that part which is not important for us) against which the figures are perceived. Figure-ground segregation is essential for the perception of shape. It is not only the characteristics of visual perception, it is there in all sense modalities. For example, when you listen to the music, the vocal part of the music (what a singer sings) becomes a figure and the instrumental part is relegated to the background. If the listener is interested in the instrumental part of the music then the vocal part becomes “ground”.
The distinction between figure and background is presented below:
1. The figure has a shape, while the ground is relatively shapeless.
2. The ground seems to extend behind the figure.
3. The figure has some of the characteristics of a thing, whereas the background appears like unformed material.
4. The figure usually tends to appear in front, the ground behind.
5. The figure is more impressive, meaningful, and better remembered.
2. Describe the laws of perceptual organization.
Ans. The Gestalt psychologists in Germany, principally Kohler, Koffka, and Wertheimer, proposed that the brain has the innate capacity for organizing perceptions. They identified the laws of organization which determine the way in which we perceive the objects. They maintain that electrical fields in the brain are responsible for the organization of perception. They were also interested in exploring figure-ground distinction, what makes figures stand out against a background.
Laws of Perceptual Organization:
(i) Good Form (Law of Pragnanz):
This law states that perceptual organization will always be as “good” as the prevailing conditions allow. The simplest organization requiring the least cognitive effort will always emerge. Pragnanz means that we perceive the simplest organization that fits the stimulus pattern.
All the stimuli that occur together in space or time will be organized together. In Figure 5.3 you can observe three groups of two vertical lines. You will find it difficult to see six individual lines.
Other things being equal, elements which are similar in structure or have common characteristics will be grouped together. In Figure 5.4, five squares, five triangles, and five circles in columns are grouped together.
An incomplete figure will be seen as a complete one. Figure 5.5, is a figure consisting of incomplete lines that have gap in them. It is perceived as a triangle despite the fact that its sides are incomplete. A closure like phenomenon yields subjective contours. In Figure 5.5 you will observe that the triangle does not exist, (the lines forming a triangle do not exist). Still it is compelling to perceive a triangle in the Figure.
3. Discuss the nonvisual cues of space perception.
Ans. You have already learnt that when we fixate our eyes on an object in space, fusion takes place and we see one object. However, when we fixate on an object, all other objects nearer or farther than the fixation point fall on the non corresponding points and produce double images.
You can try this phenomenon. Take two pencils, hold them vertically in a line in front of your nose, one nearer and the other farther away. Now, fixate your eyes on the nearer pencil, the image of this pencil falls on the corresponding points (as you converge your eyes and accommodate) and fusion will take place. You will be able to see the pencil. However, the image of the other pencil will be doubled, as it falls on the non corresponding points and fusion will not take place. Similarly, if now you fixate on the farther pencil, the image of the nearer pencil will be doubled.
However, the double images you have just experienced are not similar in nature. The first will be an uncrossed double image and the second will be crossed. Thus, when we get uncrossed double images, the object is farther than the fixation point. On the other hand when we get crossed double images then the object is nearer than the fixation point.
Objects that are nearer and farther than the fixation point project their retinal images on the non corresponding or disparate areas of the two retinas. Greater the distance from the fixation point, greater will be the binocular disparity. That is, disparity increases as the distance of the object from the fixation point increases. This retinal disparity is the possible cue about the distance of the object from the fixation point.
Monocular Cues are also called pictorial cues because they include the kind of depth information found in the photographs and paintings. These cues are extensively used by the artists in their paintings. These cues are
2. Aerial perspective.
3. Linear perspective.
4. Lights and Shadows.
5. Familiar size.
6. Texture-Density Gradient.
Let us consider these cues briefly.
When an object (A) partially blocks another object (B), the object blocked is perceived farther away than the object blocking it. This cue develops early in the children.
(b) Aerial perspective:
When you look at buildings in the city, buildings close by look clearer and their boundaries (contours) are well defined in comparison to distant ones, which look gray and hazy. The buildings, trees, and other objects that look hazy are perceived far away in comparison to those which look clear.
(c) Linear Perspective:
When parallel lines recede into the distance, as railroad tracks, converge towards a point in your retinal image. Further, the farther away two objects are in the visual field, the closer they will appear to be to each other. On the other hand, the two objects nearer to us appear further apart from each other. This cue appears much later in children.
(d) Lights and Shadows:
We are often aware of the source and direction of light. It is generally from above, as sunlight. The shadows cast by one object on another can indicate which object is farther away.
(e) Familiar Size:
Because you know the height of your friend, you can judge the distance at which he is standing. This is possible because we always store the memory image of objects that we see. When we look at an object which is away from us we can interpret the distance form the retinal image by taking into account the familiar size. You can do this activity. Take a playing card and present it to your friend at a distance of 10 ft from him. Ask him to judge the distance at which the card is placed. He will be quite accurate in judging the size of the playing card. Because he is familiar with the size of the card, which is always of the same (standard) size.
(f) Texture-Density Gradient:
Look at the ploughed field, the nearer surface looks rough and as we extend our vision farther away the texture gets finer. Similarly, if you look at the grass nearby, you will be able to see the blades of grass clearly, but as you extend your vision to a distant point the ground looks as if painted green and the blades of the grass are no more visible. This texture gradient is a cue to distance. The objects lying on a surface that look fine and smooth in texture are perceived at greater distance than those objects on a rough surface.
4. Describe the factors that influence perception.
Ans. At any particular time there are many competing stimuli out there which will gain our attention and result in perceptual organization. The stimulus characteristics are important, as are our own internal needs, motivations, and our specific sociocultural background in which we have been reared. All these factors, stimulus variables and internal factors peculiar to an individual, determine how our perceptions are organized. In the following section you will learn how the stimulus and internal factors determine what we perceive.
1. Context and Set-effects.
2. Needs and motives.
3. Social and Cultural factors.
(a) Context and Set-effects:
A given stimulus may provide radically different perceptions because of the immediate context. The context creates an expectation in our brain (top down phenomenon) that influences our perception at a particular moment. For example, in noisy conditions you are verbally provided with a sentence “eel is moving”. You will perceive the word “eel” as “wheel” because of the context provided by the later part of the sentence. Similarly provide a stimulus verbally “eel the orange”. You will perceive the word “eel” as peel. This is because the later word “orange” provides an expectation for the perception of earlier word. Perceptual sets influence our perceptions. Perceptual set refers to our mental expectancies and predispositions to perceive one thing and not another. Perceptual set can influence what we hear as well as what we see. Broadly speaking our educational, social, and cultural experiences shape what we perceive. In other words, our learned assumptions and beliefs help us in organizing our perceptions. For example, if we hold very strong beliefs about God, the temple is perceived as a place that gives us peace, love, solace, affection, and a satisfying experience. Similarly, stereotypes (a generalized belief about a group of people) help us to perceive persons we meet first time. Much of our social interaction is determined by the stereotypes we hold about individuals and groups.
(b) Needs and Motives:
We have seen above that immediate Context and perceptual sets affect our perceptions. Similarly, personal variables, like needs, emotions, values, personality, etc. influence our perceptions. An example will demonstrate the effect of need state on the perception of an individual. Two men, a hungry and another thirsty, go to a restaurant and the waiter hands over to each a menu for obtaining order. It was found that, at a quick glance, the hungry man could see eatable items in the menu and the thirsty drinks. This example supports the hypothesis that need states of individuals affect their perceptions. It has been found that emotions, motivation, and personality factors influence our perceptions. For instance, while studying the effect of reward and punishment on the organization of one’s perception, it was found that children perceived significantly more often rewarded aspects of the figure-ground stimuli in comparison to the punished.
(c) Social and Cultural factors:
Perceptual learning and development takes place in the context of socio-cultural environment. Our perceptions reflect the effect of past learning and, therefore, if learning and socialization takes place in a particular socio-cultural background it will be reflected in our perceptions. A large number of studies support the hypothesis that culture influences our perceptions. It has been found that the Africans living in dense forests displayed greater illusion in the Vertical – Horizontal figure and Western-Urbans in the Muller -Lyer figures. The differences have been explained due to their experiences in different cultures. So, it should be clear to you that cultural background influences the individual to perceive the world differently.