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Psychology From A Cultures Perspective
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Schiefelbein, Stacey 9904969

October 2005

Article Summary

Psychology From A Culture’s Perspective

Matsumoto D.R.

Brooks Cole 1994

What is the difference between perception and reality? What we perceive may not be what physically is real. We all have blind spots in our eyes where there are no sensory nerves due to the optic nerve going through the eye to connect to the brain. This however does not mean that we have a blind spot in our conscious perception. Our brain fills in the whole where the optic nerve is located so you consciously perceive that nothing in your sight is missing, you have the whole picture. This is also the same for temperature. In an experiment three bowls of water are placed on a table. Each bowl has one of the three temperatures of water; hot, lukewarm or ice cold. One places hand in hot water and then lukewarm water. Person states that lukewarm water feels cold. Then the same person several minutes later places his or her hand in the cold water and then places the same hand in the lukewarm water, they then state that the water is warm. This is an example of change in perception.

Do the things we perceive have a connection to what we have experienced in life? Another question we ask is do we see things the same way as other people. If we perceive things differently than others, why is that? It is known that our perceptions change. The more knowledge we have on a topic the more our perception changes on the topic or item. It has been shown in many studies that one’s perception before they know much about the perceived object changes drastically after knowledge is gained. Also our perceptions change with the experiences that come along with the perceived object.

Where we are raised, so essentially our cultural background shapes and molds how we perceive things as well. An Australian teacher teaching aborigine children to play a game learned that she was the fool in the game. She had the children form a circle and have one child in the middle blindfolded. Then a selected student was to walk to the center of the circle and touch the blindfolded child on the shoulder and then return to its place in the circle. The point of this game was to teach the children to use perception. In fact she was taught that the aborigine children thought she was stupid for not knowing who was the “tagger” because they could differentiate the difference between foot prints. This is a prime example of cultural perception.

As humans we have four kinds of taste buds; sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Between the ages of three and ten we have the most taste buds, but after that they begin to dwindle at different rates. This causes food preference change as we get older. When we were younger we may not like sour kraut, but as we get older this may change. Back in the early years of humans the way children learned what was poisonous was by taste. Most things that are poisonous are bitter in taste, which taught the children what was edible and not. By the time the children’s taste buds had diminished they were old enough to recall which plants should not be consumed.

Did you ever think it was possible for our culture to influence our perception of taste, smell, touch and the way we hear things. For example when two equal in length lines are drawn and inward facing arrows are placed on the ends of one line and outward facing arrows are attached to the end of the other line, the line with the inward arrows are perceived as being longer. The same goes for to equal perpendicular lines, the vertical line tends to favored as the longer line.

All of the above that was discussed is just a few ways our perception can be affected. Its merely a suggestion that perception is like putting together a puzzle of sensory information by the culture that has made us who we are. Something to keep in mind is that perception is influenced by many factors a few being; age, maturity, environment, situation and culture. Meaning our perception changes throughout our life and its experiences.

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Stacey Schiefelbein