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Alan Gilchrist; How things look. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):1394. doi: 10.1167/13.9.1394.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recognizing the historical role of materialism in the advancement of modern science, psychology has long sought to get the ghosts out of its theories. Phenomenology has thus been given short shrift, in part because of its distorted form under the early sway of introspectionism. However, phenomenology can no more be avoided in visual perception than the nature of matter can be avoided in physics. Visual experience is exactly what a theory of perception is tasked to explain. If we want to answer Koffka's question of why things look as they do, a crucial step is the description of exactly how things do look. Of course there are pitfalls. Because we cannot measure subjective experience directly, we rely heavily on matching techniques. But the instructions to subjects must be carefully constructed so as to avoid matches based on the proximal stimulus on one hand, and matches that represent cognitive judgments (instead of the percept) on the other. Asking the subject "What do you think is the size (or shade of gray) of the object?" can exclude a proximal stimulus match but it risks a cognitive judgment. Asking "What does the size (or shade of gray) look like?" can exclude a cognitive judgment but risks a proximal match. Training subjects on the correct nature of the task may represent the best way to exclude proximal stimulus matches while the use of indirect tasks may represent the best way to exclude cognitive judgments. Though there may be no perfect solution to this problem, it cannot be avoided.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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