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What Are Perception Exercises?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 15 June 2014
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Perception exercises are activities that test perception and highlight differences in the way people perceive things. They can often be used in psychology research and education to gather helpful information about how people interpret sensory information. Visual perception is commonly the topic of interest in such activities, although it is possible to explore other senses as well. Numerous examples can be found online for people interested in experimenting or developing group perception activities.

In perception exercises, participants are asked to respond to information. They may do something like counting the number of instances of a letter in a square or describing an image that could be interpreted in several different ways. Such activities can involve the use of optical illusions and other tricks to show how the eye, and the brain, can be fooled. The leader may have people respond publicly as a group, or could ask them to privately note their perceptions.

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When all the members of the group have provided feedback, the leader of the perception exercises can talk about what they really saw, and why people returned varied responses. In the example of letters in a sentence, for example, it’s common for people to skip over some words, or to miss letters because they are not at the beginning or end of a word. Priming can also play a role; if, for example, people are asked to look for a specific letter and then shown the sentence, they may respond differently than if they see the sentence first and then are asked to count the instances of a given letter.

Researchers can use perception exercises to compare and contrast the way people process information. This can provide important clues into the cognitive processes behind perception. If people look at a grid and see different numbers of squares, it appears that something more complex than simple visual stimulus is occurring. Exercises can also show how changes like color, font, and layout can make information easier or harder to perceive accurately.

In classroom environments, teachers can use perception exercises to illustrate psychological concepts for students. They can also be useful for team building and education not just in class, but also in organizational settings. People preparing to work together on a project could complete some perception exercises to have a better understanding of how people can interpret the same stimulus differently.

Exercises to improve perceptual abilities are also sometimes known as perception exercises. In these activities, people review stimuli to sharpen sensory acuity. For example, people might use eye exercises to promote eye health and develop skills like being able to distinguish between very similar colors.

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