Sensory perception is a kind of cognition that is considered to contrast traditionally with logical reasoning or reflection. It is the first stage on the way of our cognition of the world. It is not just a simple process of touch with the outer environment: “perception is the outcome of an extraordinary process that is accomplished by mechanisms which, in their exquisite complexity, work so well that the outcome – our awareness of the environment and our ability to navigate through it – occurs effortlessly under most conditions”.
During the whole history of humanity great minds tried to define the weaknesses and strengths of sensory perception that means that this problem has not been solved yet. In my opinion, sensory perception has to be understood as an essential step in our cognition and inescapable tool for it that provides us with the material, which is then used on another level. Sensual perceptions form our experience and are the premise of the appearance of the notions in our brain, which occur after the abstracting of the individual impressions.
In the majority of cases we have to trust our senses, which warn us, make us feel pleasure or pain. But there are some reasons that may make us doubt in the accuracy of the information gained by our senses.
1. We can face up to illusions that “occur, when the perceptual processes that normally help us correctly perceive the world around us are fooled by a particular situation, so that we see something that does not exist or that is incorrect”. That means that our perception is caused by our previous knowledge, expectations, emotions, etc.
2. Sense perception does not give universal knowledge that can be accepted by every person. All people are different and every person has specific peculiarities of his/her organism. Biological factors also influence sensual perception and that is why for some people orange tastes sour, and for some – sweet. Being not universal, sense impressions may make us doubt in their accuracy.
3. Information that we gain from the sensory perception is changeable.
At the same time, we cannot deny that we have to trust our senses and via them we get an accurate information about the world. Among the factors, which ensure the accuracy of sensory data, are heath, memory and repeatability. When the person is healthy (is nourished properly, sleeps well and has no problems with nervous system), then it is a guarantee that the brain of this person functions well and analyses sensory data in a correct way. Memory helps us to identify the new sensory information with our previous experience and evaluate the new data appropriately. Repeatability is a condition that helps our memory to find essential connections and meanings in interpretation of sensory information.
We cannot deny biological and cultural factors that influence our interpretation of sensory information. A lot of works were written in order to solve the problem on what is more important in the process of perception: nature or nurture. The number of these writings means that these factors have to be taken both. Heredity impacts greatly our intellect, views and of course, cognition that includes perception too. But at the same time, “some abilities are not present at birth due to physical maturation of perceptual systems, such as vision. Thus, a complete story of perceptual development takes into account, physical maturation, the role of experience, and a developing sensitivity to information”.
To sum up, sensory perception is an inescapable part of us that plays a significant role in our life and helps us to check our expectations, feel the environment and avoid dangers. In this area there are still a lot of questions that have to be answered and the theses above are the steps on the way of this investigation.
- Arterberry, M. E. (2008). Perceptual Development. Colby College. Elsevier Press, Inc. Retrieved January 26, 2013 from: http://www.elsevierdirect.com/brochures/Infant/PDFs/Perceptual%20development.pdf
- Goldstein, E. B. (2005). Sensation and perception. Stamford, Connecticut: Wadsworth Publishing
- Stangor, C. (2010). Introduction to Psychology. Irvington, New-York: Flat World Knowledge, L.L.C.