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fundamental insights

Course Code
Michael Inzlicht

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Jan 11
Fundamental Insights of Psychology
Fundamental Insight #1: Reality is a story, told to us by our brains.
Our brains are artists, not mirrors that reflect reality
Our experiences do not reflect reality itself, but rather a construction, or
representation of reality (our story).
1) This construction process involves a lot of guesswork filling in the gaps
2) This subjective representation occurs within the brain.
We only have access to a limited subset of Reality
The limitations of our sensory-perceptual system are due to:
the sensitivity of our sensory mechanisms (each individual has different
sensitivities; we do not experience this world as a whole. E.g. dogs sense of
smell is much better)
our attentional capacity is limited (there is only so much we can process at a
given moment).
Based on what one gets from the world, he tries to figure out whats going on till
he arrives to perception (based on guess, most of the time it works, sometimes it
does not).
Perception is a process of creative story-telling and inference making. We
have to fill in a lot of gaps.

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This is highly functional.....most of the time, allowing our brains to function
super -efficiently, with a small cost of accuracy.
It is easy to mislead a person.
Our brain processes info pretty well. The accuracy cost is small enough that
we can get away with it. The shortcuts our brain takes are quite adaptive.
But it is much more profound. This means that we are not directly interacting
with reality, but rather, we are creating a fiction about reality, and we hope
its a pretty close match.
But how does the Mind perceive Reality?
Perception is a process of PATTERN-MATCHING
It is as though our brains look for a correspondence between patterns that
have been stored in it through our past experience, and the patterns of
sensory stimuli it is currently experiencing.
the brain uses its pre-existing patterns (i.e., knowledge”) to decode incoming
sensory signals
thus, what the brain has learned to see in the past, is largely what it sees in
the present
what it cannot decode, it either guesses about (if it has some reasonable info)
or ignores entirely, or just sees what it wants/likes to see.
There are a lot of realities that we are blind to.
Implications of Fundamental Insight #1 - Reality is a story, told to us by our
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