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PSY100.Lecture (1).docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

PSY100: Fundamental Insights -reality is a story, told to us by our brains -our brains are artists, not mirrors -our experiences do not reflect “reality itself,” but rather a construction, or representation of reality  this construction process involves a lot of guesswork (“filling in the gaps”)  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  our attentional capacity Perception -perception is a process of creative story-telling and inference making, we have to fill in a lot of gaps -this is highly functional most of the time -but this means that we are not directly interacting with reality, but rather, we are creating a fiction about reality, and we hope it’s a pretty close match How Does the Mind Perceive Reality? -perception is a process of pattern matching -it is as though our brains looks 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 ? MOM JUSTICE I AM AUNT LOU MOM ANTS MAGIC BUFFALO AWESOME! Hi MOM! uhhhhhhh, ??? ??? Fundamental Insight (1) -reality is a story, told to us by our brains -implications?  we don’t live in a real world, but in a constructed world  this construction process involves interpreting patterns of sensory information with pre-existing patterns stored in the brain  we regularly make errors in this construction process, and there are systematic ways in which we do so Fundamental Insight (2) -we have limited information processing capacity -therefore, we take shortcuts:  we rely upon ‘heuristics’ or rules of thumb, when engaging in reasoning and decision making  ex. stereotypes: our beliefs about different social groups  ex. the “warm” vs. “cold” person; the different Torontonian stereotypes Biases -of course, relying so heavily upon our beliefs makes us biased, often so subtly that we are unaware of these biases, and we can therefore be led astray by our own belief driven expectations -because perception  behaviour, our biases can actually create their own reality -“self-fulfilling prophecies” -ex. race and job applicants; gender/race and essay quality; gender and classical music -biases
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