Understanding Perceptual Set sample essay

A “Tuning” of the visual system is an experience-driven aspect of seeing, which according to Blake and Sekuler (2006) is important but often neglected. The way you recognize objects can be educated. That is, your perception of an object may change dramatically as you come across with the same object repeatedly. b James Elkins, an art historian describes his own experience of how object recognition or perception may change. Catching moths during his childhood taught him how to differentiate between the moth’s wings and the texture of the bark of a tree.

At first glance, these moths cannot be easily recognized because of their excellent camouflaging features. But when Elkins carefully examined these moths, he found out that their wings have minute differences with that of the bark of the tree. c Two different parts of the brain are responsible for the tuning of the visual system – the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe. The temporal (or ventral) stream tells us what we are looking at while the parietal (or dorsal) stream tells us where things are located to help us direct our actions.

The parietal lobe sends feedbacks which then results to an improved recognition on the object we saw. The feedback then strengthens the temporal lobes’ responses. d The present study helps us better understand what Dolan et al. explains. It shows us how the exposure to a recognizable drawing gives us an improved recognition of a subsequent more unrecognizable picture. e The null hypothesis for this study is that they way they perceive the middle panel depends on their perception of the first panel they were shown.

The alternative hypothesis would be that the way they perceive the middle panel does not depend on their perception of the first panel they were shown. Participants a The participants for the study are randomly selected from a group of students. b The participants chosen are ten freshmen students who have not yet taken a psychology course to avoid bias as students from a psychology course (or who have taken a psychology course) might already know of the experiment or the theory being tested. c However, due to time constraints, the researcher was not able to include enough cases to test the generalizability of the study.

Stimuli and Procedure a The stimuli used for the experiment are the three panels showing the picture of the man playing a saxophone (Panel A), the ambiguous picture (Panel B), and the face of a woman (Panel C). Panel A and Panel C helps in determining the participants’ recognition of the object shown in Panel B. b To ensure random assignment, participants were asked to draw from 10 cards lying face down on a table. Five of these cards are Panel A pictures while five of these are Panel C pictures. The participants are then shown Panel B and asked what they see in that picture (Panel B).

The participants who have drawn Panel A are included in Condition 1 while the participants who have drawn Panel C are included in Condition 2. For Condition 1, participants who answered “man playing with saxophone” are scored 2 while those who answered “face of a woman” (or any other answers) are scored 0. For Condition 2, participants who answered “face of a woman” are scored 2 while those who answered “man playing saxophone” (or any other answers are scored 0. If the average score for each of the two conditions is 1. 2 or above, the null hypothesis is accepted. If the average score is below 1.

2, the null hypothesis is failed to be accepted. c Participants are tested in only one condition to avoid having confusion over what they see in Panel B. Moreover, it is highly likely that if they also see the third panel, they will have mixed recognition over the picture shown in Panel B. d Two conditions should be considered in order to determine the differences of and changes in perspectives. e The independent variable for this study are the pictures shown in the Panel A and Panel C while the dependent variable is the object as recognized by the participant in Panel B. Results/Conclusions

For the Condition 1, the average score is 1. 2 while for condition 2 the average score is 1. 6. b The bar chart showing the average scores for each of the two conditions are shown in Figure 1. c The chart shows that when the participant was shown Panel A (the picture of a man playing the saxophone), he perceives (or is more likely to perceive) that the picture in Panel B is also the same man playing the saxophone. On the other hand, when a participant is first shown Panel C (the picture of a face of a woman), he perceives (or is more likely to perceive) Panel B as the picture of a face of a woman.

d Results support the hypothesis as mentioned earlier in the study. Since most of the participants in both conditions scored 2, it can be concluded that what they perceive of Panel B depends on what they were first shown. Moreover, the average scores for both of the conditions, which is 1. 2 and above, suggest that the null hypothesis as stated earlier in this paper is accepted. e However, generalizability of the study cannot be determined due to smallness of the sample study.

It is, therefore, advisable that future studies should include more participants that can be said to represent a whole population to ensure the generalizability of the study. Other cases should also be included to determine more perspectives other than those experimented here. For example, a third control group should be shown both the pictures in Panel A and Panel C before shown the picture in Panel B. In this way, the dominant perspective can be determined – that is, what do participants really see?


Black, R. , & Sekuler, R. (2006). Perception. New York: McGraw-Hill.