How Does Perception Affect Our Thought Processes

How does the way in which you perceive the world influence your thought process? Provide a specific example in your response. What other factors do you think influence your thought process? Your initial response is due by Day 2.

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I was absolutely intrigued by the discussion in our text of visual perception. In particular, it struck me as odd that our perception of objects comes with certain preconditions and pretexts. For instance, we always view objects as if light were coming from above, presumably because we evolved on a planet where the sun shines from above (Willingham, 2007). On page 76 of chapter 3, there is a picture of a crater and sure enough, if you turn the book upside down it looks like a hill. I find that very odd. It seems like we take for granted that all of this “programming” is already in place when we are born. I don’t see how we could have learned this type of perception control after birth. I could not think of some behaviorist mechanism or cognitive map that could account for this peculiarity. It is probably a throwback to an older time when depth perception and shadows were important for the acquisition of basic needs, such as food.

As far as how visual perception affects my thought process, I am sure that there is a top-down effect. I am sure that my preconceived notions and stereotypes largely affect the categorization and manipulation of incoming visual stimuli. For instance, the other day I saw a person that looked like a young man playing football with a bunch of men. As I got closer I realized that it was a woman with short hair. My preconditions automatically categorized the player in question as a male because of my stereotype that males play contact sports. In that way, perception exerts a top-down effect on incoming visual stimuli.  

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Willingham, D. T. (2007). Cognition: The thinking animal. New York, NY: Pearson Prentice Hall. 

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