Spotlight on Terminology and Language – ESL Pointers

Spotlight on Terminology and Language – ESL
Module 11: Perceptual Organization:
Constructing Our View of the World
Page 125 “Known as gestalt laws of
organization, these principles were set forth in the
early 1900s by a group of German psychologists
who studied patterns, or gestalts (Wertheimer,
Gestalt is a German word that translates into form
or pattern. The laws of organization show how
these principles fit into a set of patterns.
Page 125 “Finally, in a general sense, the
overriding gestalt principle is simplicity.”
necessary. The speaker is redundant. A
redundant message has parts that can be
eliminated without the loss of essential
Page 128 “We would make no headway in
our recognition of the sentence without being
able to perceive the individual shapes that
make up the letters.”
If you are not able to make headway, you’re
not able to make progress toward achieving
something. Oftentimes, student’s find
themselves unable to make headway with a
project because the directions are not clear
When something is overriding, it is more
important than everything else or can take the
place of anything else.
Page 128 “Bottom-up processing permits us to
process the fundamental characteristics of
stimuli, whereas top-down processing allows
us to bring our experience to bear on
Page 125 “Although gestalt psychology no longer
plays a prominent role in contemporary
psychology, its legacy endures.”
When we bring our experience to bear, we
are using our past to help us understand and
create our current perception.
A legacy can be ideas, beliefs, traditions or even
property left behind when a person or group passes
on or moves on to other things.
Page 129 “Perceptual constancy is a
phenomenon in which physical objects are
perceived as unvarying and consistent despite
changes in their appearance or in the physical
Page 127 “But now look at them right side up, and
you’ll be surprised to note that one of the photos
has distorted features.”
A distorted object is positioned or disguised in
some way that makes it hard to recognise.
Page 128 “If perception were based primarily on
breaking down a stimulus into its most basic
elements, understanding the sentence, as well as
other ambiguous stimuli, would not be possible.”
Ambiguous stimuli are stimuli that are vague,
unclear or confusing.
Page 128 “You were able to figure out the
meaning of the sentence with the missing letters
because of your prior reading experience, and
because written English contains redundancies.”
When something is redundant, it is exceeding
what is necessary or normal. Many times lectures
are characterized by using more words than
Unvarying means constant and unchanging.
Page 129 “When the moon is near the horizon,
the perceptual cues of intervening terrain
and objects such as trees on the horizon
produce a misleading sense of distance.”
When something is intervening it stands
between two things.
Terrain refers to the way the ground or a
piece of land is seen as related to its surface
features - the physical features of a piece of
Page 129 “In addition to the phenomenon of
perceptual constancy, other factors may
contribute to the moon illusion.”.”
An illusion is something with deceptive
appearance. In reference to perceptual
constancy, an illusion is a misinterpretation of an
experience of sensory perception.
Page 129 “The brain integrates the two images
into one composite view, but it also recognizes the
difference in images and uses it to estimate the
distance of an object from us.”
A composite view means a combined view.
Page 129 “The difference in the images seen by
the left eye and the right eye is known as
binocular disparity.”
A disparity is a discrepancy or difference.
Page 130 “The fact that the discrepancy between
the images in the two eyes varies according to the
distance of objects that we view provides us with a
means of determining distance.”
A discrepancy is a difference between two
instances of the same thing.
Page 130 “The monocular cue of texture gradient
provides information about distance because the
details of things that are far away are less distinct
(Proffitt, 2006).”
When something is distinct it is clear and well
Page 133 “Although all kinds of explanations
for visual illusions have been suggested, most
concentrate either on the physical operation of
the eye or on our misinterpretation of the
visual stimulus.””
When someone makes a misinterpretation,
he or she does not understand something
Page 133 “In contrast, a different explanation
for the illusion suggests that we
unconsciously attribute particular significance
to each of the lines (Gregory, 1978; Redding
& Hawley, 1993).”
When we do something unconsciously we do
it automatically, or without thinking about it.
Page 133 “Despite the complexity of the latter
explanation, a good deal of evidence supports
Complexity means having many parts.
Page 134 “As the example of the Zulu
indicates, the culture in which we are raised
has clear consequences for how we perceive
the world.”
Consequences are the results of an action.
Page 131 “If you look carefully at the Parthenon,
one of the most famous buildings of ancient
Greece, still standing at the top of an Athens hill,
you’ll see that it was built with a bulge on one
A bulge is a rounded part of something that sticks
out, or is not in line with the rest of the object.
Page 131 “If it didn’t have that bulge – and quite a
few other a ‘tricks’ like it, such as columns that
incline inward – it would look as if it were
crooked and about to fall down.”
In this case the “tricks” are methods of
arranging the parts of a building so that it appears
a certain way – hiding parts that make the building
look funny, and drawing the eye to the parts that
are beautiful.
Crooked means not straight, or not in a straight
Page 134 “Sometimes called the ‘devil’s
tuning fork’, it is likely to produce a mindboggling effect, as the center tine of the fork
alternates between appearing and
A mind-boggling effect is one that confuses
the mind, causing it to switch back and forth
between choices.
Page 134 “The misinterpretations created by
visual illusions are ultimately due, then, to
errors in both fundamental visual processing
and the way the brain interprets the
information it receives.”
When we misinterpret something we make a
mistake in understanding it.
Page 134 “But visual illusions, by illustrating
something fundamental about perceptions,
become more than mere psychological
Curiosities are strange or unusual things that
usually do not cause changes in the way people
behave or see something, like a cow with six legs
– it may be interesting, but it wouldn’t stop
everyone from buying meat at a grocery store.
Page 136 “Subliminal perception refers to the
perception of messages about which we have no
Subliminal messages are brief auditory or visual
messages that are presented below the absolute
threshold, so that their chance of perception is less
than fifty percent.
Page 133 “ In short, although we are able to
perceive at least some kinds of information of
which we are unaware, there’s little evidence that
subliminal messages can change our attitudes or
behavior in any substantial way (Abrams,
Klinger, & Greenwald,2002; Pratkanis, Epley, &
Savitsky, 2007; Randolph-Seng & Nielsen,
Substantial means large or many.
Page 135 “Although half of North America
believes it exists, most psychologists reject the
existence of ESP, asserting that there is no sound
documentation of the phenomenon (Swets &
Bjork, 1990; Hyman, 1994; Gallup Poll, 2001).”
Having sound documentation means that there is
written proof of scientific experiments or other
agreed upon accounts that logically demonstrates
the correctness of the premise under study.
Page 135 “According to proponents of ESP,
reliable evidence exists for an ‘anomalous process
of information transfer’, or psi.”
Things that are anomalous are strange or out of
the ordinary.
Page 135 “These researchers, who painstakingly
reviewed considerable evidence, argue that a
cumulative body of research shows reliable
support for the existence of psi (Bem & Honorton,
1994; Storm & Ertel, 2001; Parra & Argibay,
Painstakingly means slow, careful steps in
performing some action, making sure that
everything possible is examined before going
on to the next step, and making sure that all
the steps necessary to accomplish the task are