As you watch this video of some students passing basketballs around, carefully count the number of times the players in the white shirts pass a ball to one another. Pay close attention to try to get the count exactly right.
Test Your Awareness: Do The Test
Some of you may have noticed something kind of strange the first time (some of you probably did not). What does this exercise mean in terms of our consciousness – how do we affect our own conscious experience?
This is a key area of the field that is very important to understand even if you disagree with some of its ideas.
Answer these questions carefully from an evolutionary perspective, trying to offer the best possible explanation from that perspective. Remember, evolutionary theory in psychology is about genetically driven behavior, not thoughts, that get more and more common in the gene pool.
- How would an evolutionary psychologist explain differing levels of physical aggression in males and females
- How about male attraction to healthy youthful women?
- How about female attraction to mature, affluent men?
- How about gender differences in play behavior, where boys tend to play in groups focused on an activity, while girls tend to play one-on-one and talk more openly?
- How can differences between males and females in testosterone level support this perspective?
You need a partner to do this. Take several pens that are brightly colored. Have your partner sit facing straight ahead with their eyes focused on a specific spot. Throughout the exercise they should not move their head or eyes.
Now bring one of the pens SLOWLY out from a point behind them and several inches to the side. As you bring it slowly forward, ask them to tell you when they can see it. (You may want to ask them every few seconds if they can see it yet.) Remind them not to shake or nod their head or move their eyes as they answer you.
As soon as they say they can see it, stop moving it forward and ask them if they can tell you what color it is. Then slowly move it forward a bit more, and a bit more, until they can give you its color correctly. Then try it again with a different pen.
What happened and why do you suppose it did? (If nothing special happened, try it with someone else, and if that still doesn’t work, just think about what might have happened and why.)
In a marvelous opening section to a discussion on Sensation and Perception, David Myers (2010) says, “Twenty-four
hours a day, stimuli from the outside world bombard your body.
Meanwhile, in a silent, cushioned, inner world, your brain floats in
utter darkness. By itself, it sees nothing. It hears nothing. It feels
nothing… How does the world out there get in?”
With that opening (and the slide show entitled “Perception online”) as context, please consider the statement, “Perception is constructed.”
- Why is that a good way to understand how our senses operate?
- What does it mean to say that we see, hear, taste and smell with our brains?