Subjective Perceptions

This week I read several blogs regarding human perception and optical illusions. Every time someone would show me an illusion or pass around the old Magic Eye books growing up, I was temporarily amazed, then quickly moved on with my life. Most of the time I figured these “puzzles” out, sometimes I did not and I was fine with it, after all I never wanted to be that creepy guy who becomes obsessive with trying to figure them all out…

In reading “Blogging” For Dummies’ post, This Is Just An Illusion….You’re Getting Sleepy…., the author took a refreshing stance on illusions. In the post she says, “On one hand, I think some of these illusions are creative and interesting to look at. But on the other hand, I can’t understand why someone would want to dig deep to create theories and classifications to different tricks of the eye.” I completely agree. I think human perception is important to be aware of (as we subconsciously know what we want to see), but I do not want to dig too deep into examining it.

The author also says, “optical illusions are just another form of magic; we can’t explain it, but our minds say there must be a reason as to what is going on!” Well, even though my eyes were starting to hurt as well after running the gamut of illusion examples, to me it’s not all trickery. As the Discovering Psychology: Sensation and Perception video states, “We see with our minds, not just our eyes and you see what you want to see.”

Just like the example of subjective contours above, I see what I want to see. My childhood plays a role here, so I lean towards seeing three Pac-Mans (or is it Pac-Men?) first before I pick up on the triangle over the circles. The key word here is subjective.

So while illusions may not hold my attention long term, in design and viewing websites through the years, my mind is preconditioned to know what it wants. I understand why the study of human perception is important and I think optical illusions are interesting ways of expanding the way the mind initially works, but I cannot necessarily explain them. I think its best explained in Bach and Poloschek’s Optical Illusions, “In all likelihood we will never be able to turn around and see the true reality, but we can do our best to understand it.”


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