Gregory Is Ma G Essay

1059 words - 5 pages

Discuss Gregory’s top-down (indirect) theory of perception

Gregory’s theory of perception is a top-down theory, the theory states that our mind takes in physical information that we see through the eye and combines this with previous knowledge stored in the brain, in order to make sense of the mass of information that we receive. According to Gregory our brain develops hypotheses to understand the incoming sensory data.
It is a constructivist view as the sensory information on its own is seen as insufficient, therefore what we are seeing is not what is directly in front of us, but is instead a combination of the interaction with the stimulus, our previous knowledge and hypotheses that ...view middle of the document...

Our previous knowledge of depth cues tells us that the first line is like the edge of a building, our experience tells us that this would be closer to us, and the rest of the building further away from us. Similarly the second line is like a corner of the room and therefore seems to move towards us making the line seem longer than what it is. When we see the Müller-Lyer illusion our brain automatically adjusts the apparent size of the more distant object. This illusion supports the importance of the role of previous knowledge as it explains how our perception can be explained by incorrect hypotheses due to the usual relationships between objects such as depth cues. This illusion is also supported by cross cultural research carried out by Segall et al, where it was discovered that people who lived in round huts saw the two lines as the same length as they had not experience the edges of buildings or the corners of rooms. This helps the research to be applied more widely as there is less cultural bias due to the study being carried out in different countries and this also allows the results to be more comparable. The studies had good ethics as no physical or psychological harm would have been bought to any of the participants and they were all debriefed about the studies.

However even though visual illusions support Gregory they are also a limitation of the theory as they take place in artificial settings in laboratories and therefore they cannot be used to describe real-world perception as they lack ecological validity. Another criticism of the study is that it fails to explain why we continue to see the illusion even when we know that our brain is changing the information, with the Müller-Lyer illusion we continue to see the lines as different lengths even when we know they are the same.

Gregory’s theory is not over simplified as it has 3 main concepts and it also incorporates both the behavioural and the cognitive approach. The behavioural approach explains behaviour is due to learning, this could explain Gregory’s top-down theory, as we need to learn about what is around us in...

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