Cognition: Sensation, Perception, and States of Consciousness

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Book Chapter

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This chapter explores how experience with one’s environment shapes perception by creating perceptual expectations. Several factors may contribute to differences in people’s sensation and perception. These include physical and environmental conditions, genetic factors, socialization norms, and acculturation practices. Psychologists offer several hypotheses that explain cultural differences in illusion susceptibility. However, there are common perceptual mechanisms that lead to similarities across cultures in the perception of time and in aesthetic appreciation. In addition, the universal similarity in the anatomy and physiology of human sensory organs and the nervous system make it likely that sensory impressions and their transmission through the perceptual system are comparable across cultures. From a cultural standpoint, the normal flow of consciousness directs our behavior in ways that are adaptive in particular physical and social environments. While duration and patterns of sleep may vary individually and from culture to culture, the latent dream content is believed to be generally similar in people living in different cultures. Specialists should always take into consideration personal characteristics of the studied individuals and notice the particular life circumstances that influence individual experiences.

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