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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Summary.rtf

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3350
Saba Safdar

Chapter 5 CultureCognitionPsychologists use the term cognition to denote all the mental processes we use to transform sensory input into knowledgefirst cognitive processes to occur when people process stimuli are sensation and perceptionsensation refers to all the feelings that result from excitation of the sensory receptors touch taste smell etcperception refers to our initial interpretations of sensationsCulture as Cognitionmost scholars view culture itself as cognitionculture is generally viewed as a set of mental representations about the worldnorms opinions beliefs values and worldviews are all cognitive products and as such one can view the contents of culture as being essentially cognitivehuman culture is also essentially cognitive because of certain cognitive skills that only humans have which allow us to have the kinds of cultures that we doCultural Influences on Visual Perceptionmost of what we know about cultural influences on perception come from crosscultural research on visual perceptionthis work began with studies on optical illusionsthe three best known and most studied optical illusions are the MuellerLyer illusion see fig 51 the horizontalvertical illusion fig 52 and the Ponzo illusion fig 53two major theories as to why optical illusions occur carpentered world theory and fronthorizontal foreshortening theorycarpentered world theory suggests that people are used to seeing things that are rectangular in shape and unconsciously come to expect things that have squared cornersin the MuellerLyer illusion we tend to see the figures as having square corners that project toward or away from us and conclude they must be different sizesfronthorizontal foreshortening theory suggests that we interpret vertical lines as horizontal lines extending into the distance in the horizontalvertical illusion we interpret thevertical line as extending away from us and concludethat it must be longerthese two main theories share common characteristics they both assume that the way we see the world is developed over time through our experiences they also both assume that we live in a three dimensional world that is projected onto our eyes in two dimensionsA third theory has been offered to explain cultural differences in visual perception the symbolizing three dimensions in two theory suggests that people in western cultures focus more on representations on paper then do people in other cultures and in particular spend more time learning to interpret picturesmany crosscultural studies have been conducted to challenge traditional notions of optical illusionsAs early as 1905 WHR Rivers compared the responses to the MuellerLyer and horizontalvertical illusions using groups in England rural India and New Guinea He found that English people saw the lines in the MuellerLyer illusion as being more different in length than did the two other groups He also found that the Indians and New Guineans were more fooled by the horizontal vertical illusion than were the English The results showed that the effect of the illusion differed by culture but that something other than education was involved the researchers concluded the culture must have some effect on the way the world is seen Both the carpentered world theory and frontal horizontal foreshortening theory can be used to explain Riverss resultsRiverss findings were supported by Segall et al but it was
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