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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Textbook Notes


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB51H3
Professor
Matthias Niemeier
Chapter
1

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PSYB51 Notes are
Chapter 1:
Early Philosophy of Perception
-The allegory of the cave, written by Plato compares our ordinary sense of reality that of prisoners in a
cave.
- It emphasizes how critically our conception of reality depends on what we can learn about the
world through our senses-our sense of reality are the products of evolution
- Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher known for his famous statement –you can never step into the same
river twice- stresses his view that everything is always changing
- no two experiences can ever be identical, because experiencing the first event changes the way
we experience the same event the second time
- perceptual systems are keenly sensitive to change
- perception quickly comes to ignore anything that stays the same for very long, this is adaptation
- Democritus is had the radical idea that the world is made up of atoms that collide with one another
- are senses should be trusted because perception as a result of the physical interaction
between the world and our bodies
- the most reliable senses were those that detect the weight or texture of objects
- taste and olfaction, our sense of smell, come closest to Democrituss theory
- primary qualities are those that can be directly perceived, secondary qualities are those that
require interaction between atoms from objects and atoms in the perceiver
- sensory transducer is a substance or structure that changes energy from one form to another
- perception deals with the interpretation of the signals from sensory transducers, it depends more on
experience
Nativism and Empiricism
Nativism
- Plato believed that the body and the mind are separate entities, and that certain mental abilities must
be innate = nativism
-Rennee Descartes Believed that only humans have in mind, the dualist
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tradition–he considered the
mind separate from the body
- and mind is then extended it has no substance and it survives the death of the body
- monism
the idea that mind and matter are formed from, or reducible too, a single ultimate substance of
principle or being
-materialism
the idea that physical matter is the only reality, and everything including the mind can be
explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena. A type of monism
- mind-body dualism
originated by Rene Descartes, the idea of positing the existence of two distinct
principles of being in the universe
- empiricism
the idea that experience from the senses is the only source of knowledge
Empiricism
- Thomas Hobbes believed that only matter exists and rejected the concept of spirit, he argued that all
knowledge must arise from the senses
- a model of human nature relies entirely on experience
- memories are simply sensory experiences that were old and faded
- John Locke, the idea of the Tabula rasa
- suggested that all ideas must be created through experience
- first century impressions are called simple ideas
- blind people treated in late the adulthood that are not made happier by being able to see
George Berkeley concluded that we learn how to perceive distance by experiencing many objects and
scenes in the world
- through experience we learn how to use multiple visual cues to arrive at a pretty good estimate
of where things are
- like Plato,he appreciated that there are limits on perception, and matter how much experience
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the Perceiver has; like Hobbes and Locke, in contrast, Berkeley concluded that all of our knowledge
about the world must come from experience
- David Hume, the most significant British empiricist
- reliability refers to the consistency of measurements
- validity refers to the relationship of the measurement to what is measured
- he argued that the world, as portrayed through our senses, seems very real because
perception is highly reliable
The Dawn of Psychophysics
- Gustav Fechner, is the true founder of experimental psychology
- he proposed that the mine, or consciousness, was present in all of nature
- panpsychism
the idea that mind exists as a property of all matter
- his goal was to formally describe the relationship between sensation [mine] and energy [matter]
that gave rise to the sensation
- psychophysics
science of of defining the quantitative relationships between physical and
psychological events
- Ernst Weber tested the accuracy of our sense of touch
- two-point touch threshold:
and minimum distance at which to stimuli are just perceptible as
separate
- most important finding involves judgments of lifted weights; he found that the ability of the
subject to detect the difference between the standard and comparison weight depended greatly on the
weight of the standard. When the standard was relatively light, people were much better at detecting
small difference when they lifted the comparison weight
- he called the difference required for detecting a change in weight the just noticeable
difference or JND, or a difference threshold
- the smallest change in ways that could detect it was always close to 1/40 of the standard weight;
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