Skewed perception definition

Eight Ways Your Perception of Reality Is Skewed

Seeing is believing. To some extent, that’s true, of course: Our eyes allow us to see what’s around us, helping us navigate our world.

But it turns out sight is much more complicated than that, according to the new book Perception: How Our Bodies Shape Our Minds, by University of Virginia psychologist Dennis Proffitt and Drake Baer. What we perceive in any given moment is not only determined by sensory input, but by our personal physical abilities, energy levels, feelings, social identities, and more.

“It’s common sense to believe we experience the world as it objectively is,” the authors write. “Even though our naive intuitions are that we see the world as it is, we do not.”

It’s not just our eyesight that’s influenced by unconscious processes, either. Proffitt and Baer’s book is chock full of fascinating research findings that challenge not only the things we perceive, but the judgments and decisions we make based on what we perceive. Things that seem true and universal are often just our own unique experience of the world.

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This is useful to know—especially now, when we are fighting a deadly pandemic and mired in political and social turmoil. If we understand what irrelevant factors manipulate what we see and think, we can perhaps find ways to overcome these influences and make better decisions as a society.

“If we are going to have a better understanding of ourselves and our fellow human beings, we need to appreciate the startling individuality of everyone’s experience,” write Proffitt and Baer. That means having humility. Here are eight of the many interesting take-home messages from their book.

1. Our energy and abilities impact our perspective

Several studies by Proffitt and others show that our physical bodies and our ability to move influence how we view our surroundings. For example, researchers have found that if you are obese or tired, distances look farther to you. People wearing heavy backpacks see steeper hills in front of them than those without backpacks.

“Put another way: Our walking ability shapes the apparent walkability of the hill, which determines how we see it. You do not see the hill as it is but rather as it is seen by you,” write Proffitt and Baer.

If you are holding something that extends your reach—like a grabber—things appear closer to you, too. In sports, successful baseball batters literally see bigger balls coming at them from the pitcher, and golfers who putt well see bigger holes. 

This phenomenon is obvious even in young babies. That’s why, in one experiment, crawling babies showed fear when they were lowered onto a platform with a fake cliff (an apparent drop-off that was actually see-through plastic), but babies who couldn’t crawl didn’t show that same fear. They didn’t see it as scary, because, as non-crawlers, they didn’t need to worry about cliffs yet.

2. Our body awareness affects our decisions

In one experiment, researchers studied hedge fund managers who have to make quick decisions about stock trading under intense pressure. Their strange finding? Managers who could more accurately count their own heartbeats without touching their bodies were more successful traders.

People who were more confident in their accurate count, however, were not more successful, and the bigger the gap between their confidence and accuracy, the higher their anxiety. This suggests that actual awareness of your body can be useful in high-stress work situations.

While it’s uncertain why that would be, it’s possible that people who are more aware of their heartbeats are better able to calm themselves under stress and, therefore, make cooler decisions. Or it could be that successful people who are more attuned to their bodies interpret their perceptions more accurately, understanding how the two interact. Either way, these findings make a case for cultivating greater body awareness.

3. Being hungry (or not) changes our choices

Perception: How Our Bodies Shape Our Minds (St. Martin's Press, 2020, 304 pages)

Our body’s energy levels also impact decision-making. In one experiment, participants who drank a sugary drink made better decisions and delayed immediate gratification longer than people who gulped down a sweet-tasting drink without glucose. Similarly, when judges make parole decisions just before their lunch breaks or the end of their day, they tend to deny parole. That’s because a decision to grant parole requires more careful consideration—and, so, more energy.

Studies have also found that people who’ve enjoyed a tall, sugary glass of lemonade tend to be more helpful to others. And children who eat breakfast do better in school and have fewer behavioral problems.

“The way you think is endlessly tied to how you physically feel,” write the authors. So, it’s important to make sure we (or others we rely on) are not too depleted when hard decisions need to be made.

4. Easy-to-read statements seem more true

Our beliefs about the world also depend on seemingly irrelevant influences. In one experiment, when researchers asked participants to determine the truth of a statement—like “Lima is in Peru”—written in different colors, participants agreed more with easy-to-read statements than less easy-to-read ones. Likewise, statements made in a rhyming scheme—like “Woes unite foes”—were considered truer than statements without a rhyming scheme—like “Woes unite enemies.”

This tendency can be undone if you simply point it out to people. But, otherwise, these forces operate below conscious awareness, and we can be duped by how easy something is to believe or retrieve in our minds.

“Our penchant for fluency makes us susceptible to bullshit—if it feels right, it is right—and when that vulnerability is scaled up to the level of media, you get truthiness and fake news,” the authors write.

5. Our feelings affect our political views

It’s probably not surprising that our feelings affect our perceptions and thoughts. Still, even for someone like me who knows this research well, Perception held some surprises.

In one study cited in the book, researchers found that people who are more easily disgusted—when imagining things like a garbage pail filled with maggots or a piece of chocolate cake in the shape of dog poo—tend to be more conservative politically. And they tend to have stronger negative feelings about people who support sexual freedoms they disagree with—like gay rights or the right to an abortion.

Feelings like disgust—which come out of the limbic system of our brains, often below conscious awareness—guide our reactions and evaluations, making them less than impartial.

“Emotions allow us to perceive good and ill in a world filled with both. They may seem to come unbidden, but they are, in fact, of our own creation, and they possess both the wisdom and vicissitudes of our oldest and most fundamental brain structures,” write Proffitt and Baer.

6. Feeling bad makes things seem harder

Anyone who’s ever felt sad or depressed knows it’s hard to face the world when you’re down. But it’s interesting to note that these feelings also change our sensory perceptions. For example, people listening to melancholic music tend to think a hill looks steeper than people listening to happy music.

“Emotions . . . have the job of giving a red or green light toward approaching or avoiding objects, people, and situations, and shape perception accordingly,” write Proffitt and Baer. That means that nurturing our positive emotions may help us to approach difficult tasks more easily—an idea that at least some research bears out.

7. Having other people around make things seem easier

The presence of other people affects our perception in difficult situations, too. Holding hands with someone while experiencing a painful event can lessen the pain. Anticipating having to carry a heavy load with someone else (as opposed to alone) makes it appear lighter, and just thinking about a friend can make hills seem less steep.

Our social connections seem to play a role in reducing stress, which might be why being with others changes our perception of pain or difficulty, making them both easier to bear. These studies and more point to the centrality of our social relationships for resilience when things are hard.

8. Our political beliefs affect our math skills

Another fascinating finding is how our group affiliations, like the political party we belong to, affect our perceptions. For example, in one study, people were asked to solve math equations to verify the truth of a research finding—like whether a vaccine is effective or whether banning guns saves lives. As predicted, people with greater math skills were able to figure out the answers more easily—but only when the result of the calculation didn’t contradict their political beliefs. If it did, everyone’s math was worse: They solved the problem correctly 25 to 45 percent less often.

This flies in the face of the idea that people just need more information to figure out the truth of a situation. “Thinking—even doing math—is not a process happening in isolation but is instead embedded in our personal thoughts and group identities,” the authors write. “We literally become flummoxed, stupefied, and incapable of wielding our full faculties when confronted with facts that threaten our social identity.”

All in all, reading about this research should humble us. Clearly, many forces below our conscious awareness affect our perceptions, thoughts, and decisions, and errors abound. Becoming cognizant of those influences could keep us from making costly misjudgments or creating unnecessary conflicts with others who see things differently. The ultimate benefit of that? Hopefully, having a little humility might help all of us to act with less hubris and be more open to other points of view.

A Skewed Perspective | Psychology Today

Have you ever watched TV while lying sideways on the couch? If so, have you ever felt a desire to rotate the TV to better match the orientation of your head? The desire to align incoming visual information to your own orientation is natural and relates to your brain's specialized networks for processing upright information.

Source: Pexels

Over the course of a lifetime, we all develop categories of perceptual expertise. By the time we are adults, most of us are experts at perceiving faces, reading words, recognizing animals, and interpreting complex scenes. However, that expertise is constrained to upright (or nearly upright) stimuli. For example, while most of us are great at recognizing faces, we are severely impaired at recognizing upside-down faces. This is demonstrated most clearly with the "Thatcher Illusion" discovered by Peter Thompson in 1980. The manipulated image of Margaret Thatcher looks a bit odd when it is upside-down, but looks absolutely grotesque when shown upright. This is because the brain regions that process faces can only efficiently process faces that are upright (or slightly tilted). We have very limited expertise for perceiving faces—or other visual stimuli—that are not upright.

Given these constraints, how is it that we are able to watch TV or other media while lying sideways? Our research team recently investigated this question by devising a clock-reading task that participants completed while sitting upright or lying sideways (Davidenko, Cheong, Waterman, Smith, Anderson, & Harmon, 2018). Participants were asked to report the time on rotated analog clocks by pressing a number on a keypad corresponding to the hour indicated on the clock. In some trials, participants were sitting upright; in other trials, they were lying sideways on their right or left side.

Our predictions were as follows: when sitting upright, participants should be fastest to respond to upright clocks (no surprise there). However, when lying sideways, we predicted participants would integrate multiple orientation cues and respond fastest to clocks at an intermediate orientation between the participant's internal upright (i.e. the orientation of their head) and the external upright (i.e. the orientation of the room and gravity). In other words, we predicted that participants would be fastest to respond to tilted clocks that are "partially" upright with respect to both the internal and external reference frames.

And this is exactly what we found. As shown in the figure below, reaction times followed sine-like curves. When participants were sitting upright (blue curve), the reaction time curve reached its minimum very close to 0 degrees relative to the observer. When participants were lying on their left side (red curve), reaction times were shortest when clocks appeared at around 35 degrees clockwise from the observer (toward the externally defined upright). Likewise, when participants were lying on their right side (yellow curve), reaction times were shortest when clocks appeared at around 45 degrees counter-clockwise from the observer (again, toward the externally defined upright).

Results of study 1

Source: Nicolas Davidenko

These results support the idea that our visual system does not rely solely on an internal reference frame to process upright and rotated stimuli. Instead, the brain combines internal cues and external cues to arrive at a “compromise” reference frame—a skewed reference frame that lies somewhere in between the internal upright and the external upright defined by vestibular and visual-environmental cues.

To test this idea further, we conducted a second experiment using Virtual Reality to dissociate the different external cues available to participants. Participants were assigned to one of four groups: Group A participants completed the clock task while sitting upright and immersed in an upright virtual environment; group B participants sat upright but were immersed in a sideways virtual environment. Group C participants lied on their right side while immersed in a sideways virtual environment, and group D participants lied on their right side while immersed in an upright virtual environment (see the figure below). We were interested in knowing the optimal clock angle leading to the fastest response. If participants incorporate external reference frames based on vestibular cues alone, we should find significant results whenever participants are lying sideways (groups C and D), regardless of the orientation of the virtual environment. If participants incorporate external reference frames based on visual information alone, we should find significant results whenever participants are immersed in a sideways virtual environment (groups B and D).

What we found was that only participants in group D showed a significant influence of the external reference frame. That is, the external reference frame only played a role when both vestibular and visual cues were available to indicate which way was up.

Results of study 2

Source: Nicolas Davidenko

Taken together, our results suggest that the brain integrates visual and vestibular cues to estimate the direction of gravity, and uses this information to select an intermediate reference frame to process visual information.

So how does this pertain to watching TV while lying sideways on the couch? Our results suggest that if you could tilt the TV screen, a tilt of about 35-45 degrees away from the internal upright (toward the external upright) may lead to the best TV watching experience. Although it may not be practical (or even safe) to literally rotate your TV set, this information could be useful when watching media on head-mounted or mobile devices. Depending on your head and body orientation, a slight tilt of your mobile screen may actually improve your ability to comprehend and enjoy what you are watching.

Distorted perception or representation of reality is called. Distorted perception of oneself

Using a logical way of understanding the characteristics of another person (reflection), we quite often perceive the personality, behavior, actions of other people in a distorted and erroneous way. There are some factors that make it difficult to perceive and evaluate people correctly. The main ones are as follows:
1. The presence of predetermined attitudes, assessments, beliefs that an observer has long before the process of perceiving and evaluating another person actually began.
2. The presence of already formed, in accordance with which the observed people belong to a certain category in advance and an attitude is formed that directs attention to the search for traits associated with it.
3. The desire to make premature conclusions about the personality of the person being evaluated before exhaustive and reliable information is obtained about him. Some people, for example, have a “ready-made” judgment about a person immediately after they first meet or see him.
4. Unaccountable structuring of the personality of another person is manifested in the fact that only strictly defined personality traits are logically combined into an integral image, and then any concept that does not fit into this image is discarded;
5. The “halo” effect is manifested in the fact that the initial attitude towards one particular side of the personality is generalized to the whole image of a person, and then the general impression of a person is transferred to an assessment of his individual qualities. If the general impression of a person is favorable, then his positive features are overestimated, and shortcomings are either not noticed or justified. Conversely, if the general impression of a person is negative, then even his noble deeds are not noticed or are misinterpreted as selfish.
6. The “ ” effect is manifested in the fact that another person is attributed, by analogy with himself, his own qualities and emotional states. A person, perceiving and evaluating people, tends to logically assume: "all people are like me" or "others are opposite to me. " A stubborn, suspicious person tends to see these same qualities of character in a communication partner, even if they are objectively absent. A kind, sympathetic, honest person, on the contrary, can perceive a stranger through “rose-colored glasses” and make a mistake. Therefore, if someone complains about how, they say, everyone around is cruel, greedy, dishonest, it is possible that he judges by himself.
7. The “primacy effect” is manifested in the fact that the first heard or seen information about a person or event is very significant and hardly forgotten, capable of influencing all subsequent attitudes towards this person. And even if later you receive information that will refute the primary information, you will still remember and take into account the primary information more. The perception of another is also influenced by the person himself: if it is gloomy (for example, due to poor health), negative feelings may prevail in the first impression of a person. To make the first impression of a stranger more complete and accurate, it is important to positively "tune in to him. "
8. Lack of desire and habit to listen to the opinions of other people, the desire to rely on one's own impression of a person, to defend it.
9. Lack of changes in people's perceptions and assessments that occur over time due to natural causes. This refers to the case when once expressed judgments and opinions about a person do not change, despite the fact that new information about him is accumulating.

Important for a deeper understanding of how people perceive and evaluate each other is the phenomenon. It is an explanation by the subject of interpersonal perception of the causes and methods of behavior of other people. The explanation of the causes of human behavior can be through internal causes (internal dispositions of a person, stable traits, motives, inclinations of a person) or through external causes (the influence of external situations).

The following criteria for analyzing behavior can be distinguished:
constant behavior - in similar situations, behavior is of the same type;
different behavior - in other cases, the behavior is manifested differently;
common behavior - in similar circumstances, this behavior is characteristic of most people.

Cognitive psychologist Kelly in his research showed that constant, little different behavior, and besides, unusual behavior is explained through internal causes, through the specifics of a person’s personality and character (“He was born that way”).

If in similar situations a person has constant behavior, and in other cases - a different, different behavior, and besides, this is normal behavior (that is, like other people in the same situations), then people tend to explain such behavior through external reasons ("in this situation, so forced to lead").

Fritz Heider, known as the author of the theory of attribution, analyzed the "psychology of common sense" through which a person explains everyday events. Haider believes that more often than not, people give reasonable interpretations. But one tends to come to the conclusion that the intentions and dispositions of other people correspond to their actions.

The processes of causal attribution are subject to the following patterns that influence people's understanding of each other.
1. Those events which are often repeated and accompany the observed phenomenon, preceding it, are usually considered as its possible causes.
2. If the act that we want to explain is unusual and preceded by some unique event, then we are inclined to consider it as the main reason for the committed act.
3. An incorrect explanation of people's actions takes place when there are many different, equally probable possibilities for their interpretation, and the person offering his explanation is free to choose the option that suits him.
4. The fundamental attribution error manifests itself in the tendency of observers to underestimate situational and overestimate dispositional influences on the behavior of others, in the tendency to believe that behavior corresponds to dispositions. We tend to explain the behavior of other people by their dispositions, their individual characteristics of personality and character (“this is a person with a complex character”), and we tend to explain our behavior as dependent on the situation (“in this situation it was impossible to behave differently, but in general I was not at all such"). Thus, people attribute their own behavior to the situation (“it’s not my fault, this is how the situation happened”), but they believe that others themselves are responsible for their behavior.

We make this attribution error partly because when we observe someone's action, that person is the focus of our attention and the situation is relatively invisible. When we ourselves act, our attention is usually directed to what we are reacting to - and the situation manifests itself more clearly. Culture also affects attribution error. The Western tends to believe that people, not situations, are the cause of events. But Indians are less likely than Americans to interpret behavior in terms of disposition, rather they will attach more importance to the situation.

People's perception is influenced by stereotypes - habitual simplified ideas about other groups of people about which we have little information. Stereotypes are rarely the product of personal experience, more often we acquire them from the group to which we belong, from parents, teachers in childhood, the media. Stereotypes are erased if people of different groups begin to interact closely, learn more about each other, and achieve common goals. The perception of people is also influenced by prejudices - an emotional assessment of any people as good or bad, without even knowing either themselves or the motives of their actions.

The perception and understanding of people is influenced by attitudes - an unconscious readiness of a person to perceive and evaluate any people in a certain habitual way and react in a certain, pre-formed way without a complete analysis of a specific situation. Attitudes have three dimensions:
cognitive dimension - opinions, beliefs that a person holds regarding any subject or object;
affective dimension - positive or negative emotions, attitude towards a particular person or information;
behavioral dimension - readiness for certain reactions of behavior, corresponding to the experiences of a person.

Attitudes are formed: 1) under the influence of other people (parents, media) and "crystallize" by the age between 20 and 30 years, and then change with difficulty; 2) on the basis of personal experience in repeatedly repeated situations.

A person's preconceived notions govern how he perceives and interprets information. The image of a person's face in a photograph can be perceived in completely different ways (is it a cruel or kind person?), Depending on what is known about this person: a Gestapo man or a hero. Experiments have shown that it is very difficult to refute a false idea, a lie, if a person has logically substantiated it. This phenomenon, called "belief persistence," shows that beliefs can take on a life of their own and survive the discrediting of the evidence that gave rise to them. Misconceptions about other people, or even about oneself, can continue to exist despite being discredited. It often takes more convincing evidence to change a belief than it does to create one.

Recall that conflict is perceived incompatibility of actions or goals. In many conflicts there is only a small core of truly incompatible goals. The main problem is a distorted perception of other people's motives and goals. The Eagles and the Rattlesnakes did indeed have conflicting goals, but the teenagers' subjective perception of reality exacerbated their differences (Figure 23-3).

[Distorted Perception, Genuine Incompatibility]

Fig. 23-3. In many conflicts, the core of the true incompatibility of goals is surrounded by an outer layer of distorted perception.

In previous chapters we have looked at the roots of these perceptual distortions. Addicted to playing in one's favor causes individuals and groups to take pride in their good deeds and shirk responsibility for bad deeds by not giving such benefits to other people. Tendency towards self-justification further inclines people to deny harm from their evil deeds, which cannot be discounted. Thanks to fundamental attribution error Each side sees the other side's hostility as a reflection of its vicious nature. The person then filters the information and interprets it to fit their prejudices. Groups often polarize their tendencies to play in their own favor, self-justification and prejudice. One of the symptoms of groupthink - perceive their own group as moral and strong, and opponents as malicious and weak. Acts of terrorism are for most people a senseless cruelty, but for some it is a "holy war". Undoubtedly, the very fact of being in a group leads to to your group's preference. A negative stereotypes, , once formed, often elicits resistance to what proves otherwise.

So we are rather not surprised, but only saddened by the discovery that the participants in the conflict form distorted images of each other. Even the modes of these distortions are predictable.

Mirror perception

The perception shifts of those involved in the conflict are surprisingly mutual. Both sides of the conflict similarly ascribe to themselves only virtues, and to opponents - solid vices. When the American psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner (Urie Bronfenbrenner, 1961) visited the Soviet Union in 1960 and talked to many ordinary people there, he was surprised to hear from them the same words about America that the Americans spoke about the Soviets. The Russians believed that the US government was made up of aggressive militarists, that it was exploiting and oppressing the American people, that it could not be trusted diplomatically. “Slowly and painfully, it dawns on a person that the distorted perception of America by Russians, as a mirror image, is like our perception of Russia,” concludes Bronfenbrenner.

When two parties have conflicting perceptions, at least one of them perceives the other incorrectly. "Such distortion in perception," notes Bronfenbrenner, "is a psychological phenomenon, unparalleled in the tragic consequences ... since it is characterized by such a representation that is self-confirming." If A expects B to be hostile, A can treat B in such a way that B will fulfill A's expectations, thereby completing a vicious circle. Morton Deutsch (Morton Deutsch, 1986) explains:

You have heard false gossip that your friend is saying unpleasant things about you; you treat him with disdain; and then he really begins to speak badly of you, confirming your expectations. Similarly, if the politicians of the East and West believe that things are heading for war and one of them is trying to increase their security in the face of the enemy, the reaction of the enemy will be the justification for this initial step. »

Negative mirror perception became an obstacle to peace in many cases:

Both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict insisted that "they" wanted only to ensure their security and protect their territory, while "the other" wanted to destroy them and seize their lands (Heradstveit, 1979; R. K. White, 1977). With such deep distrust, it is extremely difficult to conduct negotiations.

Hunter and colleagues (J. A. Hunter & others, 1991) showed Catholic and Protestant students at Ulster Northern Ireland University videos of protesters attacking Catholic funerals, as well as Catholic attacks on Protestant ones. Most of the students attributed the attack of the opposite side to its "bloodthirsty" motives, and the attack of their own was explained by retribution or self-defense.

Muslims and Hindus in Bangladesh exhibit exactly the same group bias (Islam & Hewstone, 1993).

The destructiveness of mirror perception is manifested in conflicts both between small groups and between individuals. As we saw in the dilemma games, both sides can say, “We want to cooperate. But their non-cooperation forces us to take protective measures.” In a survey of CEOs by Kenneth Thomas & Louis Pondy, 1977) in response to a request to describe a recent serious conflict, only 12% of leaders noted that the opposite side was ready to cooperate; 74% believed that they themselves sought cooperation, while those others did not. The vocabulary used at the same time was as follows: the leaders themselves "offered", "reported" and "recommended", while those others "demanded", "rejected everything, no matter what we offered" and "refused everything".

Group conflicts are often generated by the illusion that the main leader of the opponents has evil intentions, but his people - although they are controlled and manipulated - are essentially "for us. " This "evil leader makes good people" notion was common to both Russians and Americans during the Cold War. "The American people are good, they just have a very bad government," one Baghdad grocer explained after his country was bombed in 1919.98 (Kinzer, 1998).

Another type of mirror perception is hyperbolization of the opponent's position. People with opposing views on some issues, such as abortion or the death penalty, often differ less than they think. Each side overestimates the radicalness of the other's views, believing that its beliefs follow from facts, while "their" beliefs are dictated "their" interpretation of facts (Keltner & Robinson, 1996; Robinson & others, 1995). Cultural wars spring from such exaggerations. Ralph White (1996) argues that the Serbs started the war in Bosnia partly out of an exaggerated fear of the secularization of Bosnian Muslims, who claim that they are unfairly associated with Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalism and fanatical terrorism.

Change of perception

As long as perceptual distortions accompany conflict, it means that they must come and go as the conflict flares up and goes out. It does so, and with amazing ease. The same process that creates the image of an enemy can invert that image when the enemy becomes an ally. This is how the “bloodthirsty, cruel and treacherous Japanese” of the Second World War in the perception of Americans (Gallup, 1972) and the American media soon became "our intelligent, industrious, disciplined and resourceful allies." And "our Soviet allies" in World War II soon turned into "militant and treacherous."

The Germans, whom Americans during the two world wars first hated, then admired, and then hated again, were again admired, apparently no longer burdened by what had previously been considered national brutality. At a time when Iraq was at war with Iran (although at the same time it used chemical weapons and carried out genocide of its own Kurds), many countries supported it. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. But as soon as Iraq ended the war with Iran and invaded oil-rich Kuwait, Iraq's actions suddenly became "barbaric." Obviously, the images of our enemies not only justify our actions, but also vary with unusual ease.

The degree of perceptual distortion during conflict is a sobering reminder that people do not have to be insane or morbidly evil to form a perverted image of their opponents. When in conflict with another country, with another group, or simply with neighbors or parents, we easily perceive a distorted image that allows us to consider our own motives and actions as unconditionally positive, and the actions and motives of our opponents as truly diabolical. Our adversaries usually form a mirror image of ourselves. Thus, trapped in a social dilemma, competing over limited resources, or feeling unfair to themselves, the parties are in conflict until someone helps them correct the distorted perception and tries to reconcile their real differences. I would like to give advice: when a conflict arises, you should not think that others lack your virtues and your morality. Better compare perceptions, while assuming that those others are likely to perceive the situation in a completely different way than you.

In the process of working with clients, it is easy to see that the way a person perceives what is happening is important for the state of mind of a person.

Perception is the beginning and the end of how a person feels, what actions he performs, what features of character he acquires, how he lives, what fate he reaps.

Working with any request, I am forced and invariably come to the beginning, the source from which it all began. It's how the person perceives the situation.

When a client talks a lot and in detail about his difficulties, failures, injustice, illness, humiliation, fear, rejection, etc., then I understand that the essence of his experiences lies in assessing the event as negative, the consequences of which are insurmountable. This is the first thing you can work with, the rest of what the client is worried about can fall apart in the process of work on its own.

We are taught to evaluate, i.e. interpret events from early childhood. The baby is already being told: "This is not good. It's impossible, it will be wah-wah" . The student is given grades, pointing out mistakes, without detaining attention to what is good. This is how we learn negative thinking.

The first thing we do when faced with the events of life, we instinctively evaluate what is happening: dangerous - not dangerous, right - wrong, good - bad. This is how we learn black and white thinking.

When describing their problem, clients describe events in terms of evaluation and interpretation. It is very difficult to get a mere statement of facts to form an independent view. The client immediately offers his own interpretation of events in terms of his experience and upbringing. There is no impartial presentation of facts and analysis as such. And there is immediately an assessment, an interpretation, which is taken as truth. Of course, this is true for this person. But if we take into account that each person has his own unique experience and upbringing, then we have to admit that everyone has his own view, everyone looks at the same event through his own filter, which takes into account some facts, discards others as unimportant or does not notice them. as if they didn't exist.

Consciousness works selectively and associatively. This is a feature of the psyche. This protects the psyche from overload. Consciousness, as it were, scans events and highlights what is consistent with existing beliefs. This perception is unconscious and typical of any person.

Thus, all distortions begin with perception, and this further leads to destruction.

Is it right to say that if you change the style of perception, then you can avoid undesirable consequences in the form of illnesses, failures, nervous disorders?

Is realistic perception possible in principle?

In any case, the task can be set: to bring the existing perception closer to reality, and then the client himself will become a witness to how his life's difficulties crumble one after another.

The difficulty lies in the fact that the client lives in captivity of his images and ideals and does not associate his problems with perceptual errors. He clings tenaciously to his beliefs, which were created under certain circumstances and do not hold true in other contexts. These beliefs are a pillar in life, guidelines that guide the path of life.

It is difficult for a person to endure uncertainty. The unknown scares him. He is afraid to trust not ideas, but life itself, which is unfolding right now in its incomprehensible reality right in front of him. And he diverts his attention to the head, to reasoning, to comparisons with ideals, to assessments and criticism. Fear of the unknowable forces one to define, explain, give interpretations to everything that happens: this is why, he thinks this way, they want that, .. - explanations, excuses, thinking out for others.

It's scary to drop ideas and face the truth and accept life as it is, without explanations or excuses.

It's scary to give up black and white thinking, to say to yourself: it happens this way, but it happens differently, it's different for everyone, a lot depends on the context.

A perception pattern has been created and it takes courage to overcome it.

When a person gets stuck in an emotional assessment of what is happening, he does not act. Again and again he experiences the event as not justice, not correctness.

One must wake up from the hypnosis of the created ideal images and ask oneself: if this is so, how can I act for the benefit of myself and others? Is it possible to improve something? How to make something good out of it?

There is no distortion of perception when a person perceives only what is, without adding anything, without subtracting anything. We often do not realize how much we are out of touch with reality, we endow objects with non-existent qualities, we assume and guess without having real facts for this. The more thoughts are divorced from reality, the more incomprehensible and destructive for others is the behavior of the individual.

It seems easier to see only what is, without letting the mind run wild in its fantasies? In fact, this turns out to be difficult. A restless mind constantly reproduces new thoughts, regardless of the will of the person. Sometimes the mind completely pulls the person into its sweet fantasies of happiness or suffering. Surprisingly, the experiences of fantasy are as real as those of real events. That is, in fantasies, events are not real, but experiences are real. This trap draws you in with its simplicity and accessibility. You can easily, without any effort, have a wide variety of experiences without exposing yourself, as it seems, to risk. It is difficult to escape from such an infantile emotional experience. Side effect - real life is bursting at the seams. A person becomes non-adaptive and acquires more and more inadequacy in behavior, breaking away from reality.

Mental activity is natural and necessary for a person. It is useful for doing science and creativity, which have specific goals and achievements. Creative mental energy can be directed to the analysis of facts, planning the events of one's life, and finding ways to achieve the set goals. But a person with a distorted perception gets stuck in assessments and emotions, inactive. He conducts endless monologues, reasoning and proving, resisting what is.

It seems to me that one of the most important tasks of any person is to develop the ability for a realistic perception of reality. This work can be done independently with the help of concentration training. Methods available to everyone: prayers, meditations, concentration exercises.

The ability to see clearly and distinctly, without blurring, brings to life a calm attitude to ongoing events and allows you to more effectively solve life problems. Acceptance of everything that is, allows you to agree with life as a whole, with the fact that life is more than an individual, and naively a small part to fight against the whole. Reverence for that which more than us makes it possible to measure strength and not waste it on the fact that it is impossible not to fight windmills.

An unbiased perception of what is expanding the horizon of vision, will allow you to get out of the framework of narrow thinking, to face something new and gain new experience. A broad vision allows you to see solutions to problems that were previously hidden from view.

The human brain is arranged in such a way that it perceives the surrounding reality in certain categories. These categories (or patterns), as a rule, are laid in early childhood and instilled in the child by parents, reflecting their own worldview, that is, they are inherited.

The principle of the brain is such that when faced with an event, it by default selects a category already familiar to it, projects it onto the situation and automatically interprets the likely development of events, drawing parallels with what it had to deal with before. Therefore, patterns, clichés and stereotypes are not bad, but just the normal work of the brain, which honestly does its job. He adapts to the surrounding reality.

The process of imposing the same categories on more or less similar situations leads to the fact that a person develops a fixed attitude to events, a certain perception, worldview. This worldview becomes the backbone of the brain, its "backbone". And having acquired such a core, it becomes more and more difficult to be flexible.

But how does a person with an established perception react if the situation begins to develop outside the box? A systemic failure begins, called cognitive dissonance. At first, the brain refuses to believe what is happening, interpreting the event as a mistake and looking for a convenient logical explanation for why everything turned out the way it did. And then he begins to build a "parallel reality" - there is a distortion of perception.

If a person whom we really want to consider a friend says that he is going to kill us, we will not believe him, although all the words will be uttered in plain text. The brain will present a bunch of possible options why the "friend" behaved in this way.

This is some kind of mistake! It can not be so! Perhaps he was misunderstood. Or forced to behave in such a way, for example, by threats. He doesn't say what he really thinks. We know that his true intentions are peaceful. Or maybe he was in a bad mood or not feeling well. Well, I exaggerated a little, with whom it does not happen. Or offended by something. So we did something wrong. We need to do something so that he forgives us. And so on.

Perceptual distortion is much more widespread than we think. And sometimes people who sincerely and wholeheartedly believe in certain ideals do not even understand that they live in a parallel reality. So what if their naive attempts to influence something over which they have no control constantly fail? This is no reason to give up.

How can one admit to oneself that one has lived in error all one's life? The brain is tuned in such a way as to protect the psyche, so it will cling to the last, pick up any even the wildest explanations for the current events, instead of just letting the person know that his existing perception is inadequate.

This is how it happens that the same events can receive a fundamentally different interpretation. I wrote more about this on the Strip. Read

- (lat. illusio, from illudere, to play). 1) self-deception, a game of imagination. 2) the fruits of daydreaming. Dictionary of foreign words included in the Russian language. Chudinov A.N., 1910. ILLUSION lat. illusio, from illudere, to play. a) Deception of feelings (see ... ... Dictionary of foreign words of the Russian language

HALLUCINATIONS - - perceptions arising without a real object, deceptions of the senses; the patient sees or hears something that does not exist in reality at the moment. Hallucinations are divided by analyzers (visual, tactile, auditory, etc.) and by nature ... ...

- (from Latin illusio deceit), distorted perception of reality, deception of perception. 1) Illusions as a result of the imperfection of the sense organs; common to all people (for example, optical illusions). 2) Illusions due to a special state of mind . .. Encyclopedic Dictionary

ILLUSIONS - - erroneous, incorrect perception of real-life objects and phenomena. Especially often, illusions appear against the background of depression with anxiety or fear, as well as with insufficient clarity of perception associated with a deterioration in the activity of organs ... ... Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychology and Pedagogy

illusion - ILLUSION1, i, g Judgment that arose as a result of substituting the real for the imaginary, an erroneous perception of objects, phenomena of reality; Syn: delusion. ... there is nothing more ruthless than the collision of children's illusions with adult reality (Yu. Sem.). ... ... Explanatory dictionary of Russian nouns

illusion - and, f. 1) special Distorted perception of reality, based on the deception of the senses; something apparent. Optical illusions. visual illusions. Silence illusion. The movement of the stroller produces a strange illusion: it seems that . .. the mountain stands still ... but ... ... Popular Dictionary of the Russian Language

F Distorted perception of reality, based on the deception of the senses; accepting the apparent, the imaginary for the real. Optical illusions. Illusion of movement. □ Here is a rocky hill that looks like a giant's head; further stone woman, as it were ... ... Small Academic Dictionary

See dream, hope, deceit, ghost dispel illusion... Dictionary of Russian synonyms and expressions similar in meaning. under. ed. N. Abramova, M.: Russian dictionaries, 1999. illusion phantom, dream, hope, deceit, ghost; smoke, chimera, deception of feelings, mistake ... Synonym dictionary

- (from the Latin illusio game of imagination, deception), a distorted perception of reality, a deception of perception. 1) Illusions as a result of the imperfection of the sense organs; common to all people (for example, optical illusions). 2) Illusions due to ... ... Modern Encyclopedia

- (from lat. illusio deception) distorted perception of reality, deception of perception, 1) illusions as a result of imperfection of the senses; characteristic of all people (for example, optical illusions) 2)] Illusions due to a special state of the psyche (for example ... Big Encyclopedic Dictionary

Distorted perception of distorted thoughts. D

Illusions are a distorted perception that does not convey truthful information about the "outside world", that is, according to the definition of philosophers, about everything that is outside the body shell. Our behavior is based on the assumption that our perceptions are accurate. If a person is sure that he is an alien from Jupiter, who is being pursued by the CIA, then he behaves reasonably in accordance with this idea. Perception is the process of interpreting the external world in such a way that allows us to act in it.

Whose truth is true?

Perceptions become illusions when someone outside thinks they do not correctly reflect reality. In case "someone else" is the surrounding society, we often speak of "mental illness". When "someone else" is our co-worker or spouse, we call the problem a "conflict."
Most people consider majority rule to be the criterion of what external reality really is. This rule is: "If the majority says something is true, then it is actually true." However, this way of perceiving reality is by no means perfect. Most Europeans believed the earth was flat until explorers in the 15th century discovered that we could get to the East by sailing to the West.

In typical conflicts between people, there are only two versions of the truth - yours and mine. And it is often completely unclear whose version is more correct. Drawing majority rule as an ally ("everyone agrees with me, ask anyone") rarely convinces the Other to recognize the correctness of our position. Persistence in conflict not only allows us to achieve our goal of hurting the Other, it also hurts our own interests. When we damage our interests, we destroy ourselves.

Illusions are universal, everyone has them. Therefore, we cannot say that they are the result of psychological problems in the Other. They are normal as part of our biological hereditary mechanism. It's just the way we are.

Three types of illusions most clearly show how we harm ourselves in conditions of interpersonal conflict:

1. The "Win-Lose" illusion.

2. The "Bad Man" illusion.

3. Illusion of "Stumbling Stone".

Win-Lose Illusion

Our needs are totally incompatible, only one of us can win.

Some writers urge us to recognize that conflict provides an excellent opportunity for creative problem solving, cooperation, and personal growth. My profession is conflict resolution and I am considered an expert in this field. But I must confess to you that it is difficult for me personally to boast of these virtues when I am involved in a conflict. In the first moment, I react to most conflicts as win or lose situations. My Other and I take different positions, and I believe that the incompatibility of our demands means that the result will inevitably benefit one of us. I feel that only one of us can be right, only one can get what he wants and the other must lose. And only at the cost of great effort can I imagine that none of us should lose, that a mutually beneficial solution should be sought. Until that moment, I simply did not consider such an outcome possible. The illusion is that an outcome in which one wins and the other loses is perceived as inevitable, when in fact there is often an alternative to a mutually beneficial solution.

I don't think I'm unique in my strange blindness. I also don't believe that overcoming the Win-Lose illusion is easy. I'm afraid that a clear vision of a win-win solution is beyond the reach of most of us. I am also sure that the intention to educate the population of the globe to see the possibility of such a solution in interpersonal conflicts is futile. But not everything is so gloomy. Perhaps the Win-Lose illusion will constantly blind us in our daily attempts to overcome differences with others. Fortunately, however, the successful use of the 4-Step Method to improve relationships does not require that you or your Other be able to avoid this perceptual deception.

"Bad person" illusion

Our conflict is a direct result of your incompetence, rudeness, stupidity or other shortcomings; it can only be resolved if you acknowledge and correct them.

If disagreements are overcome with difficulty, that is, with the help of False Reflexes, a certain attitude towards the Other strengthens over time and seems absolutely undeniable. We begin to think that he is somehow bad, immoral, depraved, angry. In our moments of greatest generosity, we may assume that the Other's behavior is indicative of his madness and worry that he is not fully responsible for his actions. Considering the conflict as a direct consequence of the personal shortcomings of the Other, we relieve ourselves of responsibility for our contribution to the creation of the problem. We console ourselves by believing that the other person is to blame, and we are just an innocent and unfortunate victim.

Two-way street

Note the funny feature of the Bad Man illusion: it is almost always reciprocal. Each participant in the conflict is sure that the other has a full range of personal shortcomings. The reciprocity of this illusion indicates that the assumptions about the madness or perversion of one of the participants in the conflict are not necessarily true. The belief that the source of our conflict lies in the negative qualities of the Other is a distortion of reality. The cause is his difference from us, not his corruption. Even if we insist that the Other is bad, still this value judgment does not lead to a solution to the problem. Since he is probably sure of the opposite and evaluates us as low as we do him, he will not accept our conclusions and will not agree with our assessments. Negotiations based on the mutual illusions of the Bad Man lead to a dead end.

In protracted conflicts, our hostile and even self-destructive behavior leads to the fact that the perception of the Bad Man becomes like the truth. Under stress, we can behave abnormally and do bad things. Thus, the illusion becomes a prophecy that has come true. But even when we behave rudely or senselessly, we believe that our "bad" behavior is provoked by the Other. We insist that such actions are not typical for us, while the origins of the behavior of the Other lie in the depths of his personality. It is too difficult for us to consider the behavior of the Other with understanding.

Thus, the Illusion of the Bad Person is the false idea that the behavior of the Other is explained by the depravity or sickness of his nature. His behavior is not interpreted as a natural reaction to the conflict between us (as is often the case). Even in the case where the correctness of our vision supports the majority rule (for example, the diagnosis of a psychiatrist), the illusion still plays a role. It leads us to exaggerate differences, to assume that "bad" forms of behavior can be justified and situational. At the same time, we forgive ourselves everything, but we are not able to forgive anything to the Other.

In the 1980s, Ayatollah Khomeini seemed like a bad person to many Americans. At the same time, it was believed that he supported terrorism and hostage-taking, planted mines in the Persian Gulf in violation of international maritime law, and also killed and persecuted his fellow citizens who did not share his beliefs. Isn't it true, one cannot but agree that the Ayatollah was either a villain, or a madman, or both at the same time.

It's funny that the Ayatollah called the United States none other than the "Great Satan", the source of evil in the world. Americans who believe in democracy, human rights, the need to act within the law and Satan? How can it be?

Although this is not very consistent with the neutral position of the mediator, I still suspect that Ayatollah Khomeini acted quite reasonably and acceptablely within the framework of his system of values ​​and ideas about the world. I suspect that he was capable of pity and was not "sick" at all. The Iran-US conflict of the 1980s is thus a mutual illusion that the other is a fiend, that is, a Bad Man illusion on an international scale.

The 4-Step Method, designed to reach agreement between people and not between countries, is certainly not suitable for resolving the Iran-US conflict. However, it seems that the foreign policy of cutting off contact (withdrawal) from Iran or other Others on the globe prevents any possibility of conflict resolution. Similarly, the False Relationship Termination Reflex achieves the same effect in conflicts between people.

Is the Bad Man illusion a fatal feature of human nature that makes it impossible to constructively overcome differences? Fortunately, using the 4-Step Method does not require us or Others to break free from this perceptual trap.

Illusion of the "Stumbling Stone"

Our differences are irreconcilable, agreement is impossible.

When we have disagreements with our boss, wife, co-worker, and reconciliation or cooperation is necessary for our continued existence, especially annoying distortions in the perception of reality arise. It often seems that the differences between us are so great, that his character is so devoid of virtue, that she is so evil, that our principles are so incompatible, that reconciliation is impossible. "Stumbling blocks" absolutely block further development. Faced with the hopelessness of such an impasse, we are forced to choose between two False Reflexes: Minimize and avoid communication entirely (Withdrawal) or mobilize our resources to break the Other's resistance (Power Play). It is tragic that limiting all possibilities to these two ineffective options can lead to an escalation of the conflict and even to divorce, dismissal from work, etc. Why do we exaggerate difficulties by fixing on the inability to reconcile our differences? Why don't we see a way around the stumbling block? Sometimes it seems that the only thing one can agree with is that agreement is impossible.

In fact, there is almost always a workaround. It is very rare for each participant's deepest interests to be truly opposed. Even in cases where these interests are incompatible, the search for a reasonable compromise can lead each participant to a path more effective than continuing the conflict.

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Distorted perception and wrong (to perform actions) processing of information, incomplete information naturally lead to wrong decisions and mistakes.

Distorted perception of reality, based on the deception of the senses, taking the apparent, imaginary for the real. Existing only in the imagination, unrealizable, a dream.

Any distorted perception and wrong (to perform actions) processing of information, as well as incomplete information naturally lead to wrong decisions and mistakes.

Distorted perception and incorrect reaction lead to: statements that are unclear in form and content and offered for comprehension; lack of attention of the parties to the subject of the conversation.

Equal Loudness Curves.

To compensate for the distorted perception of low-frequency sounds at low volume in broadcasting equipment, a volume control with the so-called tone compensation is used, when a decrease in playback volume at low audio frequencies creates a gain increase of 10 - 12 dB in relation to a frequency of 1000 Hz ( see page

Are localism and departmental barriers the cause of a distorted perception by officials of the regularities of exchange relations in a socialist society, is there not a psychological atavism here, the roots of which go back to exchange relations based on private property. How such distortions occur in the psychology of leading cadres - this problem has not yet been really studied, but it is very relevant.

It is in this self-assessment of the manager that the danger of a distorted perception of his feedback with the team, and with the higher management, and with the heads of related departments lies.

If you look at one color for a while, and then look at another, then at first there will be a distorted perception of this color. Colors are perceived somewhat differently and under the influence of other colors surrounding or adjoining them. Such phenomena are called color contrast. Distinguish between simultaneous and sequential contrast.

Affected people can be sluggish and lack of initiative, or, conversely, excessively active and mobile. Gradually, illusory and distorted perceptions of the surrounding world appear. For example, spots on a wall or cracks are perceived as various structures, surrounding people and objects are presented in a distorted, deformed form and seem to be painted in bright, unusual colors. Usually there are visual hallucinations in the form of brightly colored motley images or pictures. They are supplemented by auditory, olfactory and tactile hallucinations, which in turn cause certain visual illusions. Often the phenomena of synesthesia (mixing of perceptions), when it seems to the affected person that he smells music, hears the sound of a color, or feels a touch of a smell.

When interviewing, it must be taken into account that even truthful answers may turn out to be unreliable and incomplete due to - reasons of forgetting; incomplete perception, both for objective and subjective reasons; distorted perception; misunderstanding of the observed phenomenon; layers formed in the process of storing perceived in memory. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the degree and cause of unreliability and incompleteness of answers and to eliminate this unreliability by appropriate additional questions. The results of the survey are recorded in the form of peer-reviewed explanations.

Basic geometrical parameters of relative positioning of movie screens in cinemas.| Horizontal viewing angles of various screens (according to E. M. Goldovsky a - with a conventional flat screen. 6 - with a wide screen. c - with a wide screen. d - with a panoramic screen.

The boundary angle a of the location of the seats is determined by the line of sight and the normal to the screen at the points of its side edges. An increase in the boundary angles causes a distorted perception of the image.

Affected people can be lethargic and lack of initiative, or, conversely, excessively active and mobile. Gradually, illusory and distorted perceptions of the surrounding world appear. For example, spots on a wall or cracks are perceived as various structures, surrounding people and objects are presented in a distorted, deformed form and seem to be painted in bright, unusual colors. Usually there are visual hallucinations in the form of brightly colored colorful images or pictures. They are supplemented by auditory, olfactory and tactile hallucinations, which in turn cause certain visual illusions. Often the phenomena of synesthesia (mixing of perceptions), when it seems to the affected person that he smells music, hears the sound of a color, or feels a touch of a smell.

At the same time, selection can lead to the loss of important information, to a significant distortion of reality. Protecting the human brain from overload, reducing psychological stress, giving rest to the senses, the selection of information at the same time makes it absolutely impossible for a person to fully perceive the observed reality, necessarily leads to a distorted perception of reality and the appearance of a variety of identical phenomena by individual people.

All of us once came across such a concept as illusion or illusory perception. And we roughly guess what this concept means. But let's take a closer look at this issue and find out what types of illusions are and what it really means.

What is this?

Illusion - illusio, translated from Latin means mockery, delusion and deceit. This is a distorted or erroneous perception of reality, surrounding objects and phenomena, the adoption of the imaginary for the real. This is where imagination kicks in and false images appear.
It becomes a consequence of such factors :

  • an optical illusion is created when the visual image is distorted during normal operation of the sense organs;
  • for narcotic, pathological or affective human conditions;
  • during times of strong pain or feeling, reality is perceived inadequately;
  • in a period of hope and expectation;
  • in the presence of important needs and the desire to urgently satisfy them, the visible object is distorted. For example, a tired and thirsty traveler in the desert constantly sees a mirage and disappears;
  • arises as a result of a violation of one of the five senses;
  • level also affects the appearance of illusions, therefore, as you know, in the absence of knowledge, conjectures and legends appear;
  • there have been many studies in which society influenced real perception. If a person had a certain opinion about something, then under the pressure of the rest of the mass of people, the perception of reality was distorted or its sharpness decreased.

In everyday life, you can often hear the concept of illusion, which replaces dreams and hopes that are considered unrealistic and unrealistic. It is rather a flight of creative imagination.

In our harsh reality, illusory perception can be a way to hide from reality in fantasies that facilitate the existence of a person in society and his psychological state.

Important! It is necessary to distinguish an illusion from a hallucination, since the first can be easily distinguished and understood by its appearance, and it can be seen by all people without exception. Hallucinations are more of a perceptual disorder, when various objects appear where they cannot be. And this is the specialization of psychologists and psychiatrists.

Illusions of healthy people

Illusions are not always a pathology, for example, an ordinary person can hear footsteps behind his back, returning home on a dark night, in the absence of anyone around. Let's consider what illusions psychologically and physically healthy people can have.


Physical disorders of consciousness are diverse and most common. They do not depend on the psychological state of a person and appear from time to time in most people.
This is due to optical illusion, when the eyes see a certain object or phenomenon, and the brain perceives this information in its own way.

So, for example, pilots say that during a night flight through, when the stars and the moon are clearly reflected on the water surface, one gets the impression of flying upside down.

When information is received from the outside world into a person, many data processing processes begin, and the results may not be accurate.
Lighting also plays a significant role here. For example, we all saw a rainbow, but this is just a hoax, because you can’t get close to it, touch it and feel it.


Cognitive illusions appear due to an already established assumption about the world at an unconscious level. These include the most famous optical illusions such as:

  • geometric visual illusion;
  • paradox;
  • fiction;
  • the brain's simplification of information, even if the correct answer seems irrational.

Among them are distinguished :

  • the illusion of distortion and the perception of dimensions worked on by Ponzo, Goering, Müller-Lyer and Orbison. On a plane, images associated with perspective are distorted. If you depict them in space, then the illusion disappears;
  • impossibility of figures. Here, perception is distorted due to the inconsistency of the connections of the figure, which at first glance seems to be an ordinary three-dimensional object;
  • the illusion of face perception is associated with an already established view of the world. From a distance of one meter, when looking at the concave part of the mask, it will seem convex to us, because in life we ​​do not meet concave faces, and our brain decides that it is convex;
  • consideration of figure and ground. Looking at some pictures, you need to decide for yourself which of the images is a figure and which is the background. There is no right answer here;
  • an optical illusion, when static drawings seem to us to be moving.


Physiological illusions are directly related to the peculiarities of perception of reality when all the senses are working normally.
When receiving information, they do not work together, and each gives out its own information.

It is this discrepancy in the functioning of the brain, the vestibular apparatus and other organs that leads to the appearance of delusion.

There are many examples, for example :

  • if you press on the eye, the object you are looking at will split in two, which is associated with an axis shift;
  • if you look out the window from a standing train at a neighboring one that is moving, then it seems that it is your train that is moving;
  • frequent accompaniment of pilots and cosmonauts - the effect of counter-rotation, when during training and testing, during rapid rotation, the activity of the vestibular apparatus is disturbed and the effect of rotation in the opposite direction is created.


Affective or affectogenic illusions arise as a result of an excessive reaction of a person, especially fear, anxiety or suspiciousness.

This state can appear on a dark night, when, walking through a park or street, every person you meet can seem like a maniac.

Or, under the influence of fear, an illusion may appear that instead of a random object, someone has a knife or other dangerous weapon in their hands.
Therefore, actions committed in such a state, as a rule, go to their own defense, sometimes with grave consequences.

Important! An affective disorder is dangerous for others, therefore, at the first signs of it, you need to stay away from such a person and urgently call an ambulance.

Pathological illusions of perception are regularly studied in psychology and psychiatry as a violation of the associative process of the mentally ill, his, and behavior.
The main characteristics and signs of pathological illusions are:

  • individual manifestations, since the same illusion is impossible for several people;
  • the exclusivity of the phantom lies in the fact that it does not repeat itself in a mentally ill person;
  • absolutely perceptual distortion, that is, from one real visible object another appears, without any resemblance;
  • incomprehensibility of the situation, when the object of imagination absolutely falls out of reality, excluding the possibility of any explanation;
  • lack of criticism and awareness of the fact of illusion as such, the desire to correct something;
  • tendency to turn the phantom into a hallucination;
  • subsequent disturbance of the patient's behavior, disorientation in space, he can hide, talk to himself, run away or attack.

Pathological disorders of consciousness are conventionally divided into four types: verbal, organic, pareidolic and awareness.

During verbal illusions, the perception of sound stimuli and conversations of others is distorted.
During the conversations of people nearby, in advice and questions addressed to the mentally ill, only reproaches, ridicule, reproaches or even threats seem to him.

This also applies to television and radio broadcasting - all this is just an appeal to him. At the same time, the real content of the conversation or information does not reach the person at all.

In the presence of anxiety, suspicion and fear, such a thing as an affective verbal illusion appears.

Organic disturbances in the perception of reality are also called metamorphopsias. These concepts imply a perverted or distorted perception of objects in space, their shape, color, location and size.
The feeling of the state of rest of a real object or its movement also changes. Such phantoms are divided into two types :

This type of illusion was first developed by K. Jaspers and consists in the fact that the patient constantly thinks that someone is nearby, although he is completely alone in the room.
This distortion is the beginning of hallucinations and delusions.


From the Greek para means about and eidoles means image. This is an optical illusion of fantastic or exotic content.

In everyday life, instead of a picture on a wallpaper or a carpet pattern, instead of a crown of trees, the outlines of clouds appear as fabulous figures, figurative characters.
The usual and real picture is transformed into fantastic birds, animals, colorful landscapes and scenes of various content appear.

This phantom is a fairly common consequence of the use of narcotic substances such as hashish, LSD or opium, as well as in a state of extreme intoxication. This is characteristic of patients with a lively and strong imagination. This is also often observed in people who suffer from frequent.

Unlike other manifestations, it is very difficult to stop, and the more the patient peers into the object, the more real it becomes for him.

Illusions are quite an interesting subject for scientists to study, and every year it becomes more and more popular with ordinary people. Therefore, it is better to know and distinguish between minor illusions of a healthy person and mental disorders.

With psychosensory disorders, patients correctly identify perceived objects, recognize them, but the shape, size, weight, shape of their own body and its parts, as well as the location of objects in space are distorted. This leads to a violation of sensory synthesis, visual-spatial orientation.

Violation of visual perception, in which the shape and size of visible objects are distorted, is called metamorphopsia (Greek metamorphopsia: "meta" - here is a prefix meaning transformation; "morphe" - shape, "opsis" - vision) or dysmorphopsia (Greek dysmorphopsia : "dys" - a prefix meaning deviation from the norm, "morphe" - shape, "opsis" - vision).

Distortion of the visual perception of the form, in which parts of the object turn out to be changed, as a result of which it seems broken, twisted, has a special name: dysmegalopsia (Greek dysmegalopsia: "dys" - a prefix meaning deviation from the norm, "megas" - large, "opsis" - vision). Such disorders are typical for neuroinfections, some deliriums, for example, in case of drug intoxication with cyclodol.

The statement of some authors who consider metamorphopsias to be “organic illusions” is unjustified, since the latter, being a deception of perception, are accompanied by a violation of the identification of the perceived object. Also, an extended understanding of metamorphopsia seems to be unsuccessful. In the literature, the term "metamorphopsia" often refers, in addition to the distortion of the shape of objects, to the distortion of their size. To designate the latter, there are special terms: micropsia (Greek micropsia: "mikros" - small, "opsis" - vision), characterized by a significant decrease in the real size of the object, and macropsia (Greek macropsia: "makros" - large, "opsis" - vision), characterized by an increase in actual size.

When the perception of the body scheme is distorted, the synthesis of proprioceptive sensations is disturbed. Patients notice that the body or its individual parts become very heavy, or vice versa light, their sizes change. Some parts of the body can disappear altogether, which creates fantastic shapes. In 1925, S. A. Yesenin in the poem "The Black Man" conveyed the feelings of the hero in a state of alcohol intoxication in this way:
"My head flaps its ears like a bird's wings. She can no longer loom on the neck of her legs.

Feelings of swelling of the body or its individual parts occur in adolescents when drugged with mescaline or psilocybin. Sometimes body schema disorders are seen in children with schizophrenia. According to G. E. Sukhareva (1955), body schema disorders are more common in young children.

Distortion of perception, in which the location in space of an object appears to the patient as excessively remote or, conversely, close in comparison with the real one, is called porropsia (Greek porropsia: "rogo" - further, "opsis" - vision).

In optic-vestibular disorders, the location of surrounding objects and their stability are distorted. These include: optical allesthesia (Greek allestesia: “alios” - different, different, “aesthesis” - sensation), in which it seems to the patient that objects are not in the place where they are in reality. With an optical storm, it seems that everything around is in motion, patients complain that everything around is moving, collapsing. These disorders may be included in the clinical picture of the depressive variant of J. Cotard's syndrome. It occurs not only in adults, but also in older children and adolescents. This syndrome is sometimes also called the syndrome of the "death of the world", since the delusional interpretation of the optical storm gives rise to corresponding complaints. Disturbances in the synthesis of vestibular and proprioceptive stimuli can manifest themselves in subjective sensations of failure, lightness in the body, flight, or, conversely, heaviness and failure, falling.

Polyopia (Greek polyopia: "polys" - many, "opos" - eye) or polyopsia (Greek polyopsia: "polys" - many, "opsis" - vision) is a distortion of perception, in which the number of perceived objects is greater, than in reality. Instead of one, the patient may see two or more images. K. Jaspers (K. Jaspers) provides information about a patient with a "seven-fold vision". Such violations can occur with violations of the peripheral part of the visual analyzer, as well as with intoxication, impaired consciousness, schizophrenia.

Psychosensory and optic-vestibular disorders can be associated with disturbances in the work of both the peripheral part of the visual analyzer (anomalies of refraction of the eye, accommodation spasm, damage to the macula of the retina), and the central one, associated with intoxication, organic damage to the brain, with psychotic conditions.

In epilepsy, epileptiform syndrome, they are paroxysmal in nature and can be both a manifestation of the aura and occur during an attack. Also, psychosensory disorders can be observed in hysterical neuroses, while having a functional nature.

Lena Shch., a patient with epilepsy observed by us, aged 7, first had an attack after her mother stopped giving anticonvulsants without a doctor's permission. For the first time, a condition suddenly arose during which the girl complained that "the ceiling may fall as the walls move."

VV Kovalev (1985) believes that psychosensory disorders with modification or transformation of images of perception can occur already in children of the first years of life.

As a rule, both in children and in adolescents and in adults, psychosensory disorders indicate residual cerebral insufficiency.

The human brain is arranged in such a way that it perceives the surrounding reality in certain categories. These categories (or patterns), as a rule, are laid in early childhood and instilled in the child by parents, reflecting their own worldview, that is, they are inherited.

The principle of the brain is such that when faced with an event, it by default selects a category already familiar to it, projects it onto the situation and automatically interprets the likely development of events, drawing parallels with what it had to deal with before. Therefore, patterns, clichés and stereotypes are not bad, but just the normal work of the brain, which honestly does its job. He adapts to the surrounding reality.

The process of imposing the same categories on more or less similar situations leads to the fact that a person develops a fixed attitude to events, a certain perception, worldview. This worldview becomes the backbone of the brain, its "backbone". And having acquired such a core, it becomes more and more difficult to be flexible.

But how does a person with an established perception react if the situation begins to develop outside the box? A systemic failure begins, called cognitive dissonance. At first, the brain refuses to believe what is happening, interpreting the event as a mistake and looking for a convenient logical explanation for why everything turned out the way it did. And then he begins to build a "parallel reality" - there is a distortion of perception.

If a person whom we really want to consider a friend says that he is going to kill us, we will not believe him, although all the words will be uttered in plain text. The brain will present a bunch of possible options why the "friend" behaved in this way.

This is some kind of mistake! It can not be so! Perhaps he was misunderstood. Or forced to behave in such a way, for example, by threats. He doesn't say what he really thinks. We know that his true intentions are peaceful. Or maybe he was in a bad mood or not feeling well. Well, I exaggerated a little, with whom it does not happen. Or offended by something. So we did something wrong. We need to do something so that he forgives us. And so on.

Perceptual distortion is much more widespread than we think. And sometimes people who sincerely and wholeheartedly believe in certain ideals do not even understand that they live in a parallel reality. So what if their naive attempts to influence something over which they have no control constantly fail? This is no reason to give up.

How can one admit to oneself that one has lived in error all one's life? The brain is tuned in such a way as to protect the psyche, so it will cling to the last, pick up any even the wildest explanations for the current events, instead of just letting the person know that his existing perception is inadequate.

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