August 12th, 2006

Vexen Crabtree 2015

Expectations alone can cause misperception

I've added the following text to my page on "Experience", proceeding from the text on how "expectations and beliefs CAUSE us to experience events in a certain way, and even seem to generate their own self-affirming experiences:

It is not just random events, confusing correlations or data processing where our expectations cause us to have certain experiences inplace of others. Our mental thoughts on what we want to see, and what we expect to see, can influence the very objects that we see before us, overriding what is real and replacing it with what we expect, or merging the two together. After citing some experiments and examples of where this happens, Eysenck and Keane report on a particularly colourful demonstration of it:

“Another illustration of the possible pitfalls involved in relying too heavily on expectations or hypotheses comes in a classic study by Bruner, Postman, and Rodrigues (1951). Their subjects expected to see conventional playing cards, but some of the cards used were incongruous (e.g. black hearts). When these incongruous cards were presented briefly, subjects sometimes reported seeing brown or purple hearts. Here we have an almost literal blending of stimulus information (bottom-up processing) and stored information (top-down processing).” ["Cognitive Psychology" by Eysenck and Keane, p75]

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