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Perceiving Forms, Patterns, and Objects

What do you see?


reversible figure
perception has an interpretive (subjective) quality.
• "perceptual set" -- a readiness to perceive or see a stimulus in a particular kind of way.

A.  [lady old]       B.  [Lady

Inattentional Blindness: The failure to see clearly visible objects if one's attention is directed or focused on something else

Example: Selective attention test (Daniel Simons & Christopher Chabris, 1998, YouTube)

Feature Analysis

[Feature Detection]

[Reading Top Line]

Max Wertheimer

Gestalt Principles: Looking at the Whole Picture

• 1912 German psychologist Max Wertheimer described the Phi Phenomenon

  [Phi Phenomenon]

• 1920s-1930s Gestalt Psychology (Gestalt is the German word for "figure" or "form")

Gestalt Perceptual Rules (in-built rules for interpreting visual data)

A. Figure vs. Ground

[Face vs. Vase]

What do you see? (1) A vase or (2) two profiles facing each other?

B. Proximity [proximity]
C. Closure [Closure]
D. Similarity [Similarity]
E. Continuity [Continuity]
F. Simplicity
("Law of Pragnanz")

Perceiving Depth & Distance

A. Binocular Cues

B. Monocular Cues

  • Cues from Each Eye
  • Pictorial depth cues
    • Linear perspective
    • Textual gradient
    • Interposition
    • Relative size
    • Height in plane
    • Light and shadow
                    Gogh's The Harvest]

[Lee Vining, CA]

  [Reno, NV]

This page originally posted on 02/04/04 and updated on 09/22/2011
All photos regarding monocular cues (except for Van Gogh's The Harvest) are Copyright © Vincent W. Hevern