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Perceptual Processes

Although many people might use the terms sensation and perception interchangeably, they are very different concepts.

Sensation can be thought of as the stimulation of sensory organs (e.g., light hitting the eye, sound hitting the ear, and so on).

Perception, on the other hand, refers to how one interprets that sensation. For example, if you are looking at a chair, even though the image reflected onto your retina is 2-dimensional, you perceive the object as having 3 dimensions. You have just gone beyond the sensation, with your active mind, and perceived the object.

This section demonstrates theories of how we perceive things the way we do. Note that sensation will not be addressed much here; we're more interested in interpretation.

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Bart Everson & Elliott Hammer, PhD