Is seeing the same as believing?

Essay by joshuasuzukiHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2008

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Seeing is Believing - how true is this for psychologists -Perception is a way of knowing, and it plays an important role in humans. Many people tend to choose to believe what they see, rather than believe something blindly. Belief is usually based on evidence and the evidence is usually linked with our senses. If we see something, we believe in it because we can support our assumption with evidence because we have witnessed it. However, one of the assumptions of the constructivist approach to perception states that perception is not always determined by external stimuli, such as our senses, and it is now commonly believed that emotional and motivational states, together with expectation and culture, could influence one’s visual perception. In addition, our perception makes us believe thing that are not really there when we are sick, tired, or suffering from dehydration or on drugs.

Firstly, emotion is one of the factors that affect our perception.

Numbers of experiments had proved that our perception could be changed as a consequence of the fact that we are designed to avoid things that evoke unpleasant emotions. For example, if people are given two groups of words, one of them includes neutral words such as “pen” and “table”, and the other one includes taboo words like “sex” and “rape”, it takes longer time for them to name these taboo words. This is called perceptual defense, since this is almost as if we are trying to defend ourselves from unpleasant words in order not to be offended (McGinnies 1949).

Secondly, Bruner and Goodman (1947) conducted an investigation, in which poor kids and rich kids were asked to estimate the sizes of coins in order to show how motivation affects the way we perceive. The result was that poor children estimated the sized...