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Thresholds” Theory of Classical Psychophysics Essay

Discuss the “thresholds” theory of classical psychophysics and explain how characteristics of the perceiver are also important in determining the selection of stimuli.

The theory that our human cognitive ability has thresholds from the conscious level to a non-conscious level which varies over time in strength. These thresholds are physical and are not defined, but generally are from those activities and thoughts that are the most active having a threshold that defines our active consciousness, down to those thoughts that are several thresholds away and not seemingly linked to our current awareness. The concepts behind the theory attempt to bring together areas of knowledge, including the commonly-held beliefs about short-term memory being limited to around 7 ideas. In an evolutionary sense, humans walk forward and have to plan their next steps.

If humans are running, they may be planning, say, 7 steps ahead. This planning allows them to avoid having miss steps. They have to be able to analyze the results of possibly taking steps, and then keep changing their focus after taking a new step forward .In theory people are imperfectly able to keep focus on a small set of priorities. This imperfection may be the solution, though, for allowing new priorities to be considered. An example is if when shopping in a market holding a red scarf you like, someone yells from behind you “Stop that thief Help” You start to turn around. Your cognitive threshold will swap out your interest in scarves for an interest in this new distraction.

You may:

•Want to see the thief to avoid them •Want to see the person yelling to verify they are not joking •Want to see if you are near the thief, or possibly in danger

In other words, our cognitive and analytical threshold allows us to act in our world and react for what could be labeled as basic evolutionary needs. The cognitive threshold changes over time, for reasons including:

•mental capacity: fatigue, chemical or emotional impairment/enhancement •situational: the ability to think about running is higher when actually running, than when performing some other activity •training: learning enhances ability to manage and perform more in those areas being learned, such as language, music, sports, science, and other skills

The Cognitive Threshold theory assumes that what is referred to as “unconscious” or “subconscious” thinking is essentially thoughts that take place at a different level of awareness.

Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and action in response to these stimuli. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about properties and elements of the environment that are critical to our survival. A number of factors operate to shape and sometimes distort perception these factors can reside:

i) In the perceiver
ii) In the Object or target being perceived or
iii) In the context of the situation in which the perception is made.

1. Characteristics of the Perceiver:

Several characteristics of the perceiver can affect perception. When an individual looks at a target and attempts to interpret what he or she stands for, that interpretation is heavily influenced by personal characteristics of the individual perceiver. The major characteristics of the perceiver influencing perception are:

•Attitudes
•Motive
•Moods
•Self-concept
•Interest
•Cognitive structure
•Expectation

2) Characteristics of the Target:

Characteristics in the target that is being observed can affect what is perceived. Physical appearance pals a big role in our perception of others. Extremely attractive or unattractive individuals are more likely to be noticed in a group than ordinary looking individuals. Motions, sound, size and other attributes of a target shape the way we see it. Verbal Communication from targets also affects our perception of them. Nonverbal communication conveys a great deal of information about the target. The perceiver deciphers eye contact, facial expressions, body movements, and posture all in a attempt to form an impression of the target.

3) Characteristics of the Situation:

The situation in which the interaction between the perceiver and the target takes place has an influence on the perceiver’s impression of the target. The strength of the situational cues also affects social perception. Some situations provide strong cues as to appropriate behavior. In this situation, we assume that individual’s behaviors can be accounted for by the situation, and that it may not reflect the individual’s disposition

Name and discuss briefly three (3) reasons why the memory of a healthy person may fail.

Memory is one of the most important functions of the brain. Whether people realize it or not, their memories define who they are. There are many areas of the brain that help you create and retrieve memories. Damage or malfunction of any of these areas can lead to memory loss. Memory loss due to problems with specific brain areas may be different. It may involve only memory of recent or new events, past or remote events, or both. The amnesia may be only for specific events or for all events. The problem may involve learning new information or forming new memories. Mental or thinking abilities may still be present or may have been lost. Filling in the details with imagined events (confabulation), and disorientation to time and place may occur.

Memory loss may be for words and thoughts only, or for the body can no longer perform specific actions calls motor action. Memory loss may also be partial, meaning failing to remember only a selected group of items. Self-esteem refers to how an individual feels about him or herself. Does someone view himself as a good person, worthy of good things? If he does, he probably has healthy self esteem. If an individual views himself as flawed and unworthy of praise or the respect of others, he probably has low self-esteem.

Self-esteem motivates people’s actions as well as the decisions they make. Individuals with positive self-esteem are likely to believe that they measure up to others sufficiently. They are more likely to have the confidence to pursue different accomplishments, whether it is trying to do well on a test, trying out for a sports team, answering a question in class, or applying for a job. These individuals are not overly afraid of failure; they realize that failure is a natural part of life and whether they fail or succeed at something does not indicate their overall worth and ability as a person.

There are several factors that influence self esteem. These include: Age: Self-esteem tends to grow steadily up until middle school, which may be due to the transition of moving from the familiar environment of elementary school to a new setting with new demands. Self-esteem will either continue to grow after this period or begin to plummet. Gender: Girls tend to be more susceptible to having low self-esteem than boys, perhaps because of increased social pressures that emphasize appearance rather than intelligence or athletic ability.

When memories are stored in the brain, they cannot serve people unless they are retrieved. How do people retrieve memories? This usually happens when memories are challenged. For example, if someone asks a question, a person must attempt to retrieve information in order to answer the question. Sometimes the answer is easy; other times, a person takes time to answer it. The amount of time it takes to answer the question is connected to a person’s awareness of what memories are stored. Sometimes a person is not aware at the time that he or she knows the answer, but later realizes that the information is there, ready to be retrieved. Sometimes, a smell or a sound can trigger a memory that a person did not know was there.

Write short examples that are related to your daily activities using James-Lange theory, Cannon Bard theory and the cognitive theory

James-Lange theory

According to James-Lange theory theory, witnessing an external stimulus leads to a physiological reaction. Your emotional reaction depends upon how you interpret those physical reactions. For example, suppose you are walking in the woods and you see a grizzly bear. You begin to tremble and your heart begins to race. The James-Lange theory proposes that you will interpret your physical reactions and conclude that you are frightened. For an example, when I see a cockroach, feel like uncomfortable and move away from that place and my heart beet become fast by thinking of cockroach going to come near me.

Cannon Bard theory

Cannon-Bard theory states that we feel emotions and experience physiological reactions such as sweating, trembling and muscle tension simultaneously. More specifically, it is suggested that emotions result when the thalamus sends a message to the brain in response to a stimulus, resulting in a physiological reaction. For example: I see a snake –> I’m afraid –> I begin to tremble. According to the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion, we react to a stimulus and experience the associated emotion at the same time .The Cannon-Bard theory of emotion differs from other theory of emotion such as the James-Lange theory of emotion, which argues that physiological responses occur first and result and are the cause of emotions.

Cognitive theory

Cognitive theory is a learning theory of psychology that attempts to explain human behavior by understanding the thought processes. The assumption is that humans are logical beings that make the choices that make the most sense to them. Information processing is a commonly used description of the mental process, comparing the human mind to a computer. Pure cognitive theory largely rejects behaviorism on the basis that behaviorism reduces complex human behavior to simple cause and effect. However, the trend in past decades has been towards merging the two into a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral theory. This allows therapists to use techniques from both schools of thought to help clients achieve their goals.


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