Perception (Cognitive Psychology)

psychpost | 9/29/2011 09:02:00 AM | 24 Comments
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of our environment be organizing and interpreting sensory information.

Perceptions are not simply the passive receipt of sensory signals, but can be influenced by our knowledge, beliefs, expectations, goals, and past experiences. 

Necker Cube, Which way does the cube appear to face?

There are two types of processes that occur during perception of sensory information.

Bottom-Up Processes: Driven by the sensory information about the physical world. In the example of the cube above, bottom-up processes allow us to see that there are many connected lines on the computer screen.
Top-Down Processes: Actively seeks and extracts sensory information and are driven by our knowledge, beliefs, expectations, and goals. In the example of the cube, there is a top-down process occurring when we recognize the lines represent a cube.

See the 9 dolphins? Took me a while lol.
This image is a great example of top-down processing. It appears to be an image of a man passionately embracing a woman. If you were to show this image to younger children, they would say there are many dolphins swimming in the picture. This shows how our past experiences and knowledge affect how we perceive sensory information.
I'm almost done with my first week of university classes. I expect to be writing new cognitive psychology posts at least once a week or even bi-weekly.

Cognitive Psychology

psychpost | 9/24/2011 12:52:00 AM | 12 Comments
Simple enough, right?
Today I begin a new school year and I begin my study of Cognitive Psychology. This looks like an enjoyable course and I am looking forward to it.

Cognitive Psychology is the study of mental processes.  Mental processes studied include (but are not limited to):  memory, decision making, perception, emotions, reasoning,  and problem solving.

Cognition in all these forms involves the interpretation or transformation of stored information, acquired through the senses, retained in memory whose implications and associations are derived and applied advantageously in the activities of daily living. 

Multi-colored brain, this is where your mind come from.
The need to study Cognitive Psychology comes from the need to answer a famous philosophical question: "How does the brain give rise to the mind?" and "Is the sum (the mind) greater than its parts (different regions of the brain)? "
Kelly's Covariation Model
While studying Psychology it is important to decide whether a person's behavior is caused by Internal or External factors.

Overview of Internal vs. External Attributions

Internal Attribution: The inference that a person is behaving a certain way because of something about that person.
External Attribution: the inference that a person is behaving a certain way because of something about the situation they are in.

But how do we know if a behavior is Externally or Internally cuased?

Kelly's Covariation Model: A theory that states that to form an accurate attribution about a behavior requires additional information. By systematically noting pattern of behavior when possible causal factors are present or absent we can make an accurate attribution. This will make much more sense when I define these possible patterns.

Components of Kelly's Covariation Model

Consensus information:  Information about how other people would behave if they were in the same situation. High in consensus means that others would behave the same way. Low in consensus means that other people would behave differently.  

Distinctiveness information:  Information about how the individual behaves the same way in different situations. Low in distinctiveness means the individual behaves the same way to different stimuli. High in distinctiveness means that the individual behaves a certain way towards a certain stimuli.

Consistency information:  Information about how the individual behaves towards a certain stimuli across time and circumstances.  High in consistency means that the individual behaves the same way almost every time they are presented with a certain stimulus. 

Possible outcomes of Covariation Model.
Internal Attribution is likely if: Consensus is Low, Distinctiveness is Low, and Consistency is High
External Attribution is likely if: Consensus is High, Distinctiveness is High, and Consistency is High
London, after Riots

Deindividuation: The loosening of normal constraints on behavior when people can't be identified (such as when they are in a crowd), leading to an increase in impulsive and deviant acts

What is it about deindividuation that leads people into impulsive acts? Deindividuation makes people feel less accountable for their actions because it is unlikely  an individual will be singled out or blamed. Deindividuation also causes individuals to adhere more closely to the social norms of that group, which is especially bad if the group is a violent one.

Recent examples of deindividuation causing deviant behavior is the riots that occurred in Canada, London, and the UK. In this following video there is a student who has been beaten and is injured on the side of the road. He is helped up and mugged by another stranger. This type of action would not happen if the mugger knew he could be identified.

Deindividuation on the internet. The anonymity provided by the internet allows individuals to say (or do) things that they would not otherwise do if they could be identified.
I'm finally done with my University classes for the summer! Expect more posts coming up soon.