The World of Psychology - Ch 3


The process whereby stimulation of receptor cells in various parts of the body (sense organs) result in nerve impulses sent to the brain.


The process through which we become aware of our environment by selecting, organizing, and interpreting information from our senses.

Sensation and perception

Make up a single information processing system.

Gestalt Psychologists

Psychologists that claim sensory experience is organized according to certain basic principles of perceptual organization.


Principle of perceptual organization where we view the world and some object (figure) seems to stand out from the background (ground).


Principle of perceptual organization that perceives objects with similar characteristics as a unit.


Principle of perceptual organization where objects that are close together in space or time are usually perceived as belonging together.


Principle of perceptual organization where we tend to perceive figures or objects as belonging together if they appear to form a continuous pattern.


Principle of perceptual organization where we perceive figures with gaps in them to be complete; a thing as a whole, even when it isn't.


The whole form that a person perceives.

Perceptual organization

Meaningful patterns the brain constructs from bits and pieces of sensory information.

Perceptual constancy

The phenomenon that allows us to perceive objects as maintaining stable properties, such as size, shape, and brightness, despite differences in distance, viewing angle, and lighting.

Size constancy

As objects or people move farther away, you continue to perceive them as being about the same size.

Shape constancy

The tendency to perceive objects as having a stable or unchanging shape, regardless of changes in the retinal image resulting from differences in viewing angle.

Brightness constancy

The perceptual phenomenon where we see objects as maintaining a constant level of brightness, regardless of differences in lighting conditions.

Depth perception

The ability to perceive the visual world in three dimensions and to judge distances accurately.

Binocular depth cues

Depth cues that depend on both eyes working together; using convergence and binocular disparity.


When the eyes turn inward to focus on nearby objects.

Binocular disparity

The difference between the eyes' two retinal images.

Monocular depth cues

Depth cues that can be perceived by one eye alone.


The monocular depth cue when one object partly blocks your view of another, you perceive the partially blocked object as being farther away.

Linear perspective

The monocular depth cue perspective with parallel lines that are known to be the same distance apart appear to grow closer together, or converge, as they recede into the distance.

Relative size

The monocular depth cue where larger objects are perceived as being closer to the viewer and smaller objects as being farther away.

Texture gradient

The monocular depth cue when objects close to you appear to have sharply defined features, and similar objects that are farther away appear progressively less well-defined or fuzzier in texture.

Atmospheric perspective

The monocular depth cue perspective where objects in the distance have a bluish tint and appear more blurred than objects close at hand.

Shadow or shading

The monocular depth cue when light falls on objects, they cast shadows, which add to the perception of depth.

Motion parallax

The monocular depth cue when you ride in a moving vehicle and the objects you see (out the side window) appear to be moving in the opposite direction and at different speeds; those closest to you appear to be moving faster than those in the distance.

Real motion

The perception of motion tied to movements of real objects through space.

Apparent motion

The perception of motion that seem to be psychologically constructed in response to various kinds of stimuli.

Phi phenomenon

Apparent motion that occurs when several stationary lights in a dark room are flashed on and off in sequence, causing the perception that a single light is moving from one spot to the next.

Autokinetic illusion

Apparent motion caused by the movement of the eyes rather than the movement of the objects being viewed.


Finding and giving meaning to the stimuli we have selected and organized.


The selection of stimuli to attend to.

Sensory receptors

Specialized cells that detect and respond to different stimuli in our environment.

3 elements of perception

Selection, organization, and interpretation.


Generalized models that we use to interpret new perceptual experiences; learned. Schemes.


One of the three elements most influenced by learning.

Perceptual expectations

Beliefs about reality as to how things will happen.


The nature of the situation in which the stimuli is perceived can effect how we interpret stimuli.


The mood we are in colors our perception.

Inattentional blindness

Phenomenon in which we shift our focus from one object to another.

Subliminal perception

The brain's ability to register a stimulus presented so briefly/weakly that it cannot be consciously perceived.

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

Gaining awareness of or information about objects, events, or another's thoughts through some means other than the known sensory channels.


The study of psychic phenomenon.


A false perception or a misperception of an actual stimulus in the environment.


The process of sorting through sensations and selecting some for further processing.

Selective attention

Screening out irrelevant sensory input in order to attend to a single source of information.

Bottom-up processing

Information processing in which individual components of a stimulus are combined in the brain and prior knowledge is used to make inferences about these patterns; data driven.

Top-down processing

Information processing in which previous experiences and conceptual knowledge are applied in order to recognize the nature of a "whole" and then logically deduce the individual components of that whole; concept driven.

Perceptual set

An expectation of what will be perceived, which can affect what actually is perceived.

Mirror neuron system (MNS)

A network of cells that the brain uses to interpret and produce motor actions and emotion-related behavior.


The capacity for experiencing unusual sensations along with ordinary ones.