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Paper Topic:

Theoretical Approaches to Perception

How the mind works during perception have been one of the mysteries of the mind . Cognitive psychology is involved in the investigation and the understanding of behaviors that is caused by cognitive functioning . If developmental psychology had to deal with the nature-nurture debate , the theories of perception are generally conceived either as a bottom-up approach or the top-down approach . The bottom-up approach says that perception visual stimuli is dependent on the characteristics of the stimuli , if the stimuli has the right color , shape , intensity and background , then the mind would readily perceive

the stimuli (Nol 2004 . On the other hand , the top-down approach says that perception is influenced by previous experience and learning , wherein perception is dependent on what the mind have previously known and conceived about the stimuli (Nol , 2004 . Thus , the mind has a sort of schema that guides the mind in identifying the stimuli presented to him /her . It is also interesting to note that perception as with everything else is shaped by the social and cultural context in which it occurs . In a conservative culture , same sex marriages may be perceived as immoral and abnormal but to cultures who have endorsed homosexuality do not perceive it as such . In another example , a Catholic whenever he sees a cross or a church would surely make the sign on the cross while a Protestant or a Baptist would not . In to illustrate the difference between the two approaches to perception the following examples are provided


The ability to appreciate an abstract painting is an example of the bottom-up approach . The individual viewing the painting do not have any idea what the painting is and what it depicts . The mind then processes the painting in terms of the different color gradients , shapes , spatial characteristics and then tries to present a coherent whole that the mind can understand (Marr , 1982 . Thus , an abstract painting can be interpreted in different ways since the viewer may manipulate the different strokes , colors and lines to form an object or a figure that is pleasing to the eye . However , our perception of what the abstract painting represents can be affected by the cultural orientation of the perceiver . A person coming from a very structured environment may find the abstract painting worthless as he cannot understand it for it lacked structure , while a person who is very open-minded may find the painting a challenge since it makes him think


The famous expression looking for a needle in a haystack ' is an example of the top-down approach . The expression is meant to convey difficulty in finding a specific object or person , but when we look at it cognitively , it is not that difficult . The person who must find the needle already have a concept of what the needle looks like , it is thin shiny and has a sharp edge (Gregory , 1990 . This information could have been formed during previous encounters with a needle , thus the task becomes easier because the person has to...

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